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Buffon thanks Spain after Italy make the last eight

Juventus shotstopper was delighted with the Azzurri's performance as they secured second spot in Group C with a comfortable victory over the Republic of Ireland to send Croatia out

Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon has insisted his side were only concentrating on their own game as they beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 to advance to quarter-finals of Euro 2012, but thanked Spain for their helping hand anyway.

Cesare Prandelli’s side could have been eliminated from the competition if La Roja and Croatia had drawn 2-2, however, a late strike from Jesus Navas ended that possibility as the Spaniards finished top of Group C with their win in Gdansk.

The Juventus shotstopper was delighted with his team’s performance against Giovanni Trapattoni’s side and feels it was vital to register their first win in the tournament to send them through to the quarter-finals with confidence.

He told Rai Sport: "I had four days of calm. The only concern was our game; I had confidence in Spain. Thanks also to them. Like Netherlands four years ago.

"The important thing was to win and we deserved to. We were well balanced for the whole game. Nobody gifted us anything. I made two saves from dangerous shots; both were struck well.”

Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli each found the net for the first time in the competition, with the Manchester City striker scoring in spectacular fashion with an overhead volley direct from a corner.

And Buffon believes having their front men firing on all cylinders is a good omen for the latter stages of the tournament.

He added: "The two strikers scoring? A good sign. They have played two good games without scoring, with the goals it's easier."

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