The Azzurri came back from a 2-0 deficit to earn the triumph, but they were lucky to be awarded a penalty after a harsh handball call against Makoto Hasebe, and Japan had a host of near misses in carrying the action for much of the encounter.
Prandelli was left under no illusions as to his side’s good fortune throughout the match, telling reporters: “Against Mexico we deserved [to win], but not today.
“We deserved that game against Mexico, but tonight we [were dealt] a crazy hand. In the first 25 minutes we did not understand what we had to do. There were times we did not play, and we were in trouble.”
The Italy boss did pin some of the blame for his team’s display on the sweltering conditions in Recife, Brazil, which he felt prematurely fatigued his team.
“It is really hard to play in this climate,” Prandelli said. “Here it is 80 percent humidity and crazy hot. We recovered [from the opening 25 minutes] but had no gas left.”
With the victory, and a place in the last four in the bag, Prandelli chose to focus his attention on preparing his team for the final group game against Brazil, the winner of which will finish in first place in Group A. Brazil would emerge as group winner with a draw by virtue of a better goal differential.
“Now you just have to recuperate ahead of the clash with Brazil,” Prandelli said.