Italy coach Roberto Donadoni claimed he never had any doubts his side would qualify for the quarter-finals after their 2-0 Group C victory over France.
The reigning world champions were in danger of exiting Euro 2008 at the first hurdle had they lost to France in Zurich, or Romania defeated group winners Netherlands in Bern.
However, a first-half penalty from Andrea Pirlo after Eric Abidal was sent off and Daniele De Rossi's deflected free-kick ensured the Azzurri set-up a quarter-final clash with Spain on Sunday as group runners-up.
"It was a good performance. Perhaps we were playing better 11 against 11," admitted Donadoni.
"After that, a bit of fear and nerves came in but it was a great response from all the lads.
"I never had any doubts. I knew that it would turn out like this.
"We've got a great group that really sticks together and has the right spirit."