Vicente del Bosque paid tribute to Italy and admitted that Spain were made to suffer ahead of their penalty shoot-out win.
La Roja defeated the Azzurri 7-6 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in Fortaleza to win through in the Confederations Cup’s second semi-final.
“We suffered a lot against a great opponent,” conceded Del Bosque at full-time.
“They were superior in the first half when we were going wrong. We saw the field opened up with Maggio and Giaccherini.
“We tried to correct it and were unable to, whilst we only then balanced out the game by correcting those defects.
“Italy deserved to take the lead in the first half. As the game went on we got better and deserved the victory in extra time. The strange thing is that it was 0-0.
“With penalties we were lucky. Italy displayed exemplary behaviour that was dignified.”
Del Bosque brought on Javi Martinez at the start of extra-time to play centre-forward.
“We could not lose height because we were suffering greatly. Javi is capable, can act as an offensive midfielder and is a player from box to box. We needed someone more physical than a scorer.”
Spain’s win now sets up a tournament final with hosts Brazil at Maracana on Sunday.
“The players have to relax and be calm because they have managed a tremendous effort. When we had finished I was tired and I had not moved, so imagine the players.
“So long as we maintain the ambition we have had since our youth of playing against Brazil at Maracana…that’s great for us.
“I hope we will be physically refreshed. We will try to represent the country well and be a headache for the hosts.
“Perhaps we were whistled because there is a large Italian community here.”