Roberto Donadoni saluted his Italy side after they climbed back into the Euro 2008 qualification places in Group B with a 2-1 victory in Ukraine.
Antonio Di Natale opened the scoring for the Azzurri in the first half before out-of-favour Chelsea striker Andrei Shevchenko levelled for the home side with 19 minutes remaining.
But Udinese forward Di Natale grabbed his second of the match six minutes later to move Italy into second place in the standings after France's shock home defeat by Scotland.
And Donadoni paid tribute to the character of his team who he feels are still behind their rivals in terms of fitness with the Serie A season only two games old.
The Italy coach told Rai tv: "I want to thank the whole side. These guys showed they are really big characters.
"We know that at the moment we are a step behind the other teams we are facing in terms of our fitness."
And Donadoni has set his sights on top spot in the group with victories in their remaining three fixtures.
He added: "We must go into matches only thinking of winning them. We will go forward in our own way."