Giampiero Ventura believes Italy took "another small step forward" after Antonio Candreva's goal secured a 1-0 victory over Albania in World Cup qualifying.
While already certain of second place in Group G, Italy needed to finish their qualifying campaign with a win to guarantee a seeding in the play-off draw for Russia 2018.
Italy looked set to fall short away in Shkoder on Monday before Candreva arrived at the back post to convert Leonardo Spinazzola's deep cross in the 73rd minute.
The result relieves some of the pressure on head coach Ventura, who had come under heavy criticism following Friday's 1-1 draw with Macedonia on home soil.
"This was the objective we had set. I think we made another small step forward, but we continue to control the game badly and give the ball away too often," he told Rai Sport.
"I think the only chances they had were gifted by us giving the ball away in banal fashion. I am happy for the lads, as they work really hard and I confirm what I said, that we need the time to do something important with this squad.
"It seemed only right to be in front, as we had some incredible chances. I was happy inside, but above all for the players. We have a few limitations at the moment, and some injury emergencies, but we wanted to try things out.
"Slowly today, a few looked around and realised certain things could be done. I hope to get some players back for the play-off, as otherwise there might be a problem."
Ventura's squad will now have to wait to find out who they will play in a two-legged play-off in November, with the draw taking place in Zurich on October 17.