Antonio Candreva feels Italy “picked up where we left off” at Euro 2016 and showed that “exceptional desire” to beat Israel down to 10 men.
Giorgio Chiellini saw red after just 54 minutes in Haifa, but the Azzurri added another goal on the counter with Ciro Immobile for the 3-1 result.
“We all know in internationals games last to the 90th minute. We had this distraction, but recovered and worked together to reach the end,” the Inter winger told Rai Sport after converting a penalty.
“We struggled at times because we were down to 10 men and early on undoubtedly we are not 100 per cent fit, but I’m sure by the time we face Spain we’ll do much better.
“We had the game under control and must continue working on the certainties within the squad and the Coach’s ideas.
“The group is fantastic, over two years we have built this exceptional desire to work together and represent Italy. We picked up where we left off and can now focus on doing well in the next few games.”
Candreva was sorely missed due to injury in the later Euro 2016 matches.
“I too suffered at not being able to help the team. These things happen, but tonight we all looked each other in the eyes and knew we had to hold on for the three points.”
Spain beat Lichtenstein 8-0 and Giorgio Chiellini will be suspended for their encounter with Italy in October.
“We mustn’t think of the risks or what we’ll find at the end of the qualifying campaign. We know it’s tough, but with humility, sacrifice and hard work, we can trouble anyone.”