Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington hailed a 'terrific point' after his side held Italy to a 0-0 draw at Windsor Park.
The Azzurri came into the Euro 2012 qualifier with two wins from two, but Worthington's men were in equally confident mood after an away triumph in Slovenia last time out.
David Healy missed a gilt-edge chance in the first half after nodding a Chris Brunt cross wide from close range, but Italy dominated for the most part.
Cesare Prandelli's new-look team could not find the breakthrough, however, and Worthington praised the work-rate of his side.
He told Sky Sports: "It was a very hard game. We knew Italy would have their fair share of possession over the course of the game, which they did.
"We've got a terrific point out of the game but we've not played as well as we can.
"The players are almost disappointed in there, which is great to see.
"The courage, the shape of the team was great, people have been disciplined in their roles and the effort was fantastic.
"Without singling anyone out, the team stuck to their task - they were solid, resilient and came out with a lot of credit.
"We had a couple of very good chances. David (Healey) with the header - unfortunately it's gone the wrong side of the post.
"As long as we keep creating chances, hopefully we'll get the goals."
Northern Ireland face a potential banana skin when they take on the Faroe Islands on Tuesday, and Worthington is calling for professionalism.
He added: "I think if we can keep our heads down, keep focused and keep chipping away, I think we've got a bigger game on Tuesday.
"Professionalism has got to come into play."
Meanwhile, West Brom winger Chris Brunt and Rangers midfielder Steven Davis were also delighted with the result.
"We expected nothing less than a tough game and they played their game, but we defended well, had a couple of chances and could have nicked it," Brunt remarked.
"It was an even game, so a draw is a fair result."
Davis added: "It's a good result, especially after the win against Slovenia. The boys showed a good level of performance."