Italy coach Marcello Lippi declared himself happy with both the result and the performance of his young debutants after the Azzurri were held to a 0-0 draw with Bulgaria last night.
Neither side came close to breaking the deadlock in a tight game in Group Eight, with the visitors dominating throughout but creating very little.
The point kept the Azzurri at the summit of the group, three points clear of the Republic of Ireland.
While many expected the World champions to edge the contest, Lippi insisted he was pleased with a draw.
"The boys played with authority and confidence, with good personality," he told Rai. "We looked to win the game, we didn't succeed but Bulgaria are a squad of top players. So I still think this was a good result, and a good performance."
Lippi used the game in Sofia to give international debuts to Simone Pepe and Giuseppe Rossi.
Napoli pair Christian Maggio and Fabiano Santacroce were also both called up to the senior squad for the first time as Lippi was forced to ring the changes with Marco Materazzi, Nicola Legrottaglie, Marco Cassetti, Fabio Grosso, Andrea Pirlo, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Marco Borriello all unavailable through injury.
And the Italy coach, who has now gone 29 games unbeaten in two stints at the Azzurri helm, just one shy of Vittorio Pozzo's all-time record, was pleased with what he saw of the newcomers to the squad.
"The squad played with good personality even though it was the first time some of them had been in the national side and only the second time for some others."
Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who made his debut for Italy at the age of 21, also praised the performance of his young team-mates and insisted the side was improving despite the fact this was the first time they had dropped points in the group.
"This has always been this squad's great virtue, that of successfully bringing in young players, and I'm proof of that," he said.
"There was definite improvement from the other two games, improvement which can make us quite optimistic."
Source: Sporting Life