Robbie Keane saluted his Republic of Ireland team-mates after snatching a vital late equaliser toearn a 1-1 draw with world champions Italy.
The Tottenham frontman stabbed the ball past Gianluigi Buffon with just three minutes of an eventful game remaining to ensure manager Giovanni Trapattoni left his home country with something to show for his efforts.
Keane said: "I always thought it was going to come in the end. We kept plugging away. We had a lot of possession and we deserved to get a goal in the end."
He added: "We had a lot of possession of the ball with them having 10 men, but full credit to the lads, we showed a lot of character and we are obviously delighted with the result in the end.
"When you score in the last few minutes, it's always pleasing."
The point means Ireland remain just two adrift of Italy, who are due at Croke Park in October after Trapattoni's men travel to Bulgaria and Cyprus.
Asked how big a night the trip to the San Nicola Stadium had been, Keane said: "It's up there. It would have been nice if we had got the win, but they are one of those teams.
"When you go a goal behind to Italy, you know it is always going to be tough because defensively, they are solid and they have got some fantastic players who pulled out all the tricks to try to stop us.
"But full credit to the lads, we showed a lot of character."
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