Claudio Marchisio has expressed his satisfaction with Italy's 2-0 win over Republic of Ireland as he feels Cesare Prandelli's men showed character to bag the full three points.
The Azzurri booked their ticket for the quarter-finals following Monday's results in Group C, and the Juventus midfielder believes the crucial stage of Euro 2012 starts now.
"It was tough, especially the last minute when we were waiting for the result from the other match, but then it finished very well for us," Marchisio stated to Uefa.com.
"Now a new tournament begins for us, after an up-and-down round which was half very good and half so-so.
"But we got through this group stage, which wasn't easy, with Spain, Croatia and Ireland, who even though they were already out of the tournament gave everything they could against us. So great credit to this team, who showed big character in a crucial game."
Italy will take on the winners of Group D in their quarter-final clash.