Italy goal scorer Giorgio Chiellini said his side “wanted it more” as they defeated Spain 2-0 in the round of 16 at Euro 2016 on Monday.
Spain had eliminated Italy in the previous two European Championships, first on penalties in the quarterfinals in 2008 before a 4-0 thrashing in the 2012 final.
Chiellini’s first-half goal held up until Graziano Pelle sealed the win with Italy’s second in stoppage time, and the centre-back said the Azzurri avenged their previous defeats.
“We had a few things to prove and take revenge for,” he said. “We deserved it and frankly made it too anxious in the final 15 minutes, as we should’ve finished it off a lot earlier. We wanted it more.”
Chiellini said Italy were encouraged by a 1-1 draw against Spain in a friendly earlier this year.
“I think we did expect it, because in March the friendly was more or less like this,” he said. “We felt good and wanted to take revenge after many years when Spain had dominated.”
Italy advance to take on an in-form Germany side in the quarterfinals.
“This is the beginning,” Chiellini said. “We’ll enjoy it for the next few hours, but we’ll take it one game at a time. The good stuff starts now.”
“We are both great teams. Naturally Germany start as favourites, they gave us a right kicking in March, so we need to do something truly extraordinary, even more than today, in Bordeaux.”
Chiellini formed part of the all-Juventus defence that kept Spain from scoring, but manager Antonio Conte said his team was more than just their Catenaccio defensive tactics.
“I knew the lads had something in them that was outside the ordinary,” Conte said. “I said it before, because it’s easy to say that afterwards.
“The lads were remarkable. Now we have to recover, as there’s another very tough game against Germany, but we proved that Italy are not about Catenaccio.
“Xavi gave us the best compliment, as he said Italy remind him of a mix between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. It proves those who play football understand.”