Evidently elated after the 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory against Spain in the semifinal of Euro 2020, Italy coach Roberto Mancini said on Tuesday his team deserved to go to the final although "hardly anyone believed it."
"We deserved to be here... It wasn't easy, hardly anyone believed it and we got to the final," Mancini said after his side booked a berth in the finale against either England or Denmark, according to AFP inputs.
However, he was quick to point out that "it's not over yet."
"We have we to recover our strength, it was very hard. I knew it would be the hardest game of the tournament. It is the sixth, it would be it was tiring, but we wanted the final."
The two teams played out an excruciating 120 minutes of football after the tie was locked at 1-1. Recovering from this would be a massive task for the Azzurri ahead of Sunday's final.
Although completely against the run of play, Federico Chiesa's curling strike put Italy ahead on the hour mark. However, Alvaro Morata came off the bench and his 80th-minute equaliser forced the game into extra time.
As luck would have it, Morata missed a crucial spot-kick and Italy's Jorginho tucked home the winning penalty.
"Penalties are a lottery," said Mancini, who was appointed six months after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
He didn't shy away from praising the young Spanish side. "It was a very hard game. Spain are a great team, they play very well. We had a good match, not quite like usual but we knew we would have to suffer," the former Manchester City manager added.
"They put us in difficulty at the beginning, then we found the right way and we didn't risk too much. It was a very tough match."
Chasing a first European title since 1968, Italy, who are undefeated for 33 games, will meet either England or Denmark, who play on Wednesday, in London.