Roberto Mancini believes that Italy are heading in the right direction after being impressed with their display in the 1-1 friendly draw with Netherlands on Monday.
The former Manchester City manager's tenure as Azzurri boss had started with a victory over Saudi Arabia and a defeat to France.
They appeared to be on track to beat a Dutch side that, like the Italians, have failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup when Simone Zaza opened the scoring.
However, after Domenico Criscito had been sent off for fouling Ryan Babel, Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake headed a late equaliser for Ronald Koeman's team in Turin.
"We were tired but we still took the lead," said Mancini afterwards. "It was a shame we lost focus. There's lots of work to do. Above all, these matches help with developing the new players.
"The lads showed lots of effort. We need to sort various things out but there's a sense of optimism. The warmth of the fans is helping a lot."
Meanwhile, Koeman was unhappy with his side's first-half display.
The former Southampton and Everton manager said: "We had little initiative, were sloppy with the ball and got away a few times. We had trouble coming up from the midfield and had trouble with the runners of Italy."
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