Giorgio Chiellini feared the match with the Czech Republic was “cursed,” but sent Italy on their way to the World Cup.
Mario Balotelli hit the bar and missed several sitters as the Azzurri went into the break 1-0 down, but Chiellini’s header and a Balotelli penalty sealed the 2-1 victory in Turin.
“The Coach just told Balotelli to relax, as we knew he’d score sooner or later. He is a decisive player and we saw that again tonight,” the defender told RAI Sport.
“He will probably never miss those chances again in his career! It was strange to see him miss, so we were starting to fear it was a cursed game, but we started out strong in the second half because we wanted this celebration at all costs tonight.
“We know our limitations and our qualities. On the field you must help each other out to hide the defects and make the most of our many positives.
“We might not have the best individuals in the world, but as a collective on the field we make everyone raise their game.
“We certainly cannot give away these chances at the World Cup. I don’t believe it was a dip in tension or concentration, but rather a lack of sharpness as we pushed so hard to fight back that we were tired. I think it’s clear that without concentration this squad won’t get far!”
Italy and Holland have already qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I’d put Spain and Brazil as the favourites.”