Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon has thanked Spain for their helping hand in sending his team through to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
Cesare Prandelli’s side could have been eliminated from the competition if Spain and Croatia had drawn 2-2, however, a late strike from Jesus Navas ended that possibility as the Spaniards finished top of Group C with their win in Gdansk.
Italy beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 to advance to the last eight, with goals from Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli.
Buffon was delighted with his team’s performance against Giovanni Trapattoni’s side and feels it was vital to register their first win in the tournament to send them through to the quarter-finals with confidence.
“I had four days of calm. The only concern was our game; I had confidence in Spain. Thanks also to them. Like Netherlands four years ago,” he said.
“The important thing was to win and we deserved to. We were well balanced for the whole game. Nobody gifted us anything. I made two saves from dangerous shots; both were struck well.”
Cassano and Balotelli each found the net for the first time in the competition, with the Manchester City striker scoring in spectacular fashion with an overhead volley direct from a corner.
And Buffon believes having their front men firing on all cylinders is a good omen for the latter stages of the tournament.
“The two strikers scoring? A good sign. They have played two good games without scoring, with the goals it’s easier,” he said.
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