Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli says his team have 'earned respect' after their penalty shootout loss to Spain in Brazil.
Spain defeated Italy 7-6 on penalties in their Confederations Cup semi-final on Thursday but were pushed all the way by Prandelli's team, who kept the Spaniards to just 53 percent possession over 120 minutes.
Prandelli was thrilled with how his team kept the ball against Spain but bemoaned Italy's drop in intensity after half-time.
"We played a great first half and then of course we couldn't keep up the same intensity," Prandelli said.
"We tried to play the ball low but they were very good in defence and exploited some chances on the counter-attack.
"We used (Emanuele) Giaccherini a lot, especially in the first half and I have to congratulate my team.
"As I said before, we wanted to play the way we did.
"We wanted to deal with Spain on a technical level as well, we started out this way and I want to continue this because we have the right qualities to play this way."
Prandelli said Italy, who were thumped 4-0 by Spain in the final of Euro 2012, showed they can 'compete with the best' in Fortaleza.
"We earned respect, the respect of our opponents and the awareness that we're able to compete with the best," Prandelli said.
"Spain are a great team, they have continuity and we wish to have that continuity.
"We played the ball a lot, short passes on the floor and displayed great generosity.
"When you get to the penalty kicks though, anything than happen."
But Prandelli continued by admitting Italy need to keep working on maintaining possession if they are to reach the level of Spain.
"Spain are ahead of us because they have worked on these concepts for many years, while we are still seeking our path," Prandelli said.
"In terms of character, determination and tactics, we are improving."
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