Inter made hard work of it but eventually beat Chievo 2-0 thanks to late goals from Walter Samuel and Diego Milito in the last three minutes of the contest at the Stadio Bentegodi.
Ranieri's reaction on the touchline to Inter's second goal was captured by cameras and after the game the Italian was asked by reporters to reflect on his feelings.
"What does it mean? That it matters to me. That I'm happy for the lads because they were playing really well, and that they deserved it after a month without a win and with everything we've been forced to swallow," Ranieri told reporters.
"It was a great satisfaction for them. Emotion is the most beautiful thing. I do this job to feel emotions, both positive and negative, but to tell the truth the positive ones are better.
"Certainly winning gives you that joy because football is sport and for such an important team as Inter to go a month without a goal and see all those things vanish isn't easy. So I have to say thanks to these lads."
Inter were frustrated by the resilience of Chievo and it looked like the home side were on course for at least a point until Samuel headed the visitors in front with just minutes to go.
Milito then made up for his missed penalty in the 14th minute by sealing the win for the Nerazzurri in stoppage time.
Inter next host Marseille in the second leg of their last-16 tie in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
The Italians trail the French side 1-0 ahead of the return leg.