Italy head coach Antonio Conte hailed his team's tremendous work ethic after goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle swept them past Spain and into the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
Chiellini's close-range effort put the Italians in front after 33 minutes and but for the heroics of Spain goalkeeper David De Gea they would have been out of sight before Pelle sealed the 2-0 win in injury time.
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Conte, who will leave his job to take over at Chelsea at the culmination of the tournament, told uefa.com: "I've always said right from the start of my work here with the national team that the only road we can follow is to be like a club - to be like a team that plays together every week.
"It's more than a month that we've been working tactically, technically, mentally and we've been trying to surprise everybody and I think we've succeeded to some extent."
Victory for Italy set up a last-eight clash with world champions Germany where they will be without the suspended Thiago Motta, but it is a challenge Conte is clearly relishing.
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He added: "We now face the best side at the European Championships. It's going to be very, very hard in all aspects.
"We've got to do well to recover and prepare for Germany the best way we can. We are without Thiago Motta and that's a big blow, also (Daniele) De Rossi took a knock to his hip. But we know that in adversity, we give that little bit more."
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque was magnanimous in defeat and admitted Italy had been much the better side.
The Spaniards rallied in the second half with Gerard Pique seeing their best chance of an equaliser saved by Gianluigi Buffon just moments before Pelle completed Italy's win.
Del Bosque said: "Italy were the better team and I wish them all the best. We were a bit shy in the first half - we improved a bit but we couldn't get a goal because Italy were clearly superior.
"(But) to say they gave us a drubbing is excessive. You can't doubt our good intentions - we had the desire to go for the game but sometimes the opponents are better."
Asked whether this defeat signalled the break-up of a squad which led his nation to an unprecedented period of success, Del Bosque added: "I don't think an era has ended.
"There are plenty of good players, the young structure is strong, as are the clubs."