Cesare Prandelli said Gigi Buffon “saved the result” after Italy squeezed past Bulgaria in their World Cup qualifier.
Alberto Gilardino scored the decisive goal for a 1-0 victory at the Stadio Barbera in Palermo, which puts the Azzurri seven points clear at the top of Group B.
“Our fitness levels are not optimal and that makes it all much more difficult,” the Coach told RAI Sport.
Unfortunately tonight we had to make three changes due to injuries, so it became complicated. Gigi saved the result with an extraordinary performance, so it’s nice to suffer and still win.
“Everyone gave more than they could tonight. While we were organised, had the ball and pace we did some very interesting things.
“Bulgaria poured forward towards the end, as they gambled it all, so it was predictable we would suffer.”
Lorenzo Insigne was picked ahead of Emanuele Giaccherini, while Thiago Motta made his first appearance since the Euro 2012 Final.
“Lorenzo can do a great deal and has this great character and technique. Thiago Motta can struggle when the midfield loses its dimensions, like all players in his role.”
Italy could secure qualification for the World Cup against the Czech Republic at the Juventus Stadium in Turin on Tuesday night.
“We’ll try to get as many players as possible back to fitness. The Czechs are also gambling their last chips, so I warn you all it is not going to be a walk in the park, but we’ll give it our all too. We’re fired up.”
This evening Armenia won 2-1 in the Czech Republic and Denmark won 2-1 in Malta.