Italy striker Filippo Inzaghi sealed his team's place in the Euro 2000 semi-finals on Saturday night and then trumpeted 'The dream goes on'.
Inzaghi scored Italy's second - and his second of the tournament - as Dino Zoff's men beat a 10-man Romania side 2-0 in the quarter-finals here.
And the message from the "Squadra Azzurra" was that team spirit is at an all-time high, following a year of disappointing results, tactical changes and criticism in the press.
Inzaghi, who scored his first goal in open play for Italy for a year, said, "I'm happy. I'm happy because Italy have won, because we've managed to get a place in the semi-finals. The dream continues.
"We're doing good things, let's hope we can keep it up."
Francesco Totti, who opened the scoring here, also played up the team spirit - and played down any rivalry with the more famous Alessandro Del Piero, who he has been relegating on the subs' bench.
"I'm pleased at having scored - but above all I'm pleased that we're through to the next round," said the AS Roma idol. "That was what really counted.
"The most important thing now is that we stay calm and we keep this going."
As for his relationship with the Juventus star, he said, "we're friends. One plays or the other does, it doesn't matter. That's how you build team spirit."
Del Piero, who replaced Totti for the last 15 minutes, said, "it's a great result, because it's one we deserved. I think that's the thing to underline.
"We didn't come into this competition aiming for any minimum result, or any maximum. We've just got to do the best within our possibilities.
"People are celebrating now because we started out (these championships) from a difficult position. We've suffered a lot over the last year with the national side, but now we've strung together four victories."
As for himself, he said, "the desire to play is something that you always have. But there are people here who have played even less than me. The important is being ready to make a contribution when the time comes."
Italy took half an hour to find any rhythm against the Romanians and were frequently getting stuck in a dour battle in midfield.
Stefano Fiore, who set up Totti's goal, accepted that Italy were not quite up to their earlier performances.
"We didn't have an extraordinary game, but we knew that we'd be up against a side who'd cause us problems," he said. "I think we were good - and lucky... although we could have done better when we had the extra man.
"Today, we had a bit of trouble in terms of positioning and we can improve,” – (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)