Italy forward Alessandro Diamanti said "justice was done" after he scored the decisive penalty in a 4-2 shootout victory over England to book a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2012.
Despite dominating for most of the quarter-final clash at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Italy were unable to break the deadlock and after an additional 30 goalless minutes of extra-time the game went to penalties.
Ashley Young and Ashley Cole both missed from the spot for England, allowing Bologna midfielder Diamanti, who came off the bench to replace Antonio Cassano, to secure victory for Italy.
"I didn’t expect it, but always believed and this was absolutely a deserved victory. The penalties did justice," Diamanti said. "We have to be ready for whenever the coach calls us, as we are all important," the former West Ham player told Football Italia.
"It was a great performance from the first to the last minute, a battle that we controlled from the start."
With Italy trailing 2-1 in the shootout, Andrea Pirlo stepped up to take a crucial penalty and coolly chipped his shot down the middle of the goal after England goalkeeper Joe Hart had made his dive.
It proved to be the turning point and fellow midfielder Daniele De Rossi likened Pirlo's effort to Francesco Totti's in the Euro 2000 shootout.
“It’s one of those nights that remain with you forever. It reminds me of Francesco Totti against Holland 12 years ago when Pirlo scored that crazy penalty."
Italy went on to reach the final of Euro 2000 but to repeat that performance in Poland and Ukraine they will have to beat Germany, who are seen as one of the favourites to claim the title.
The Germans will be much more attacking that England, who tried to hit Italy on the counter-attack as predicted by Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli.
"We did expect this sort of performance, as England have good players, but they do set out in a very defensive way," De Rossi said.
Coach Cesare Prandelli also insisted that his side were the better team and deserved the result.
"We played a great game and we deserved to win," he told Rai Sport. "We did very well against a great side, we had so many chances to score, but we had to wait for the shoot-out.
"We showed a great spirit, we stopped England from scoring on the counter. In the final moments, they went for the long balls. Let's now enjoy this victory, then we will think about the match against Germany."
Italy will take on Germany at the Warsaw National Stadium, Poland, on June 28.