Ciro Immobile was the hero for Italy as he secured a late win for the former world champions against Macedonia with a stoppage-time goal in Skopje in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
The result means the Italians are at par with Spain in Group G on seven points, following the Spaniards 2-0 defeat of Albania, although the Azzurri are second on goal difference.
It was a game that started brightly for the visitors though as Andrea Belotti – who replaced Graziano Pelle after his ill discipline at being substituted against Spain – smashed home from close range off Federico Bernadeschi’s corner.
Italy were then stunned by two quick-fire Macedonian goals though, with woeful defending contributing to their demise.
First it was Ilija Nestorovski who fired home a low drive on the break, then Ferhan Hasani punished a series of sloppy clearances from the edge of the area.
Italy rallied back late though and pulled level through Immobile, who converted Antonio Candreva’s low cross.
Marco Parolo thought he had won it late on when he headed past Martin Bogatinov, but the flag was wrongly raised to rule out his effort.
The Azzurri would not be denied though and Candreva combined with Immobile once again in stoppage time, with the Inter Milan star standing up a delightful cross that was headed home at the back post to trigger wild scenes of celebration.
The result eases the pressure on Giampiero Ventura, who has been struggling to extract the same level from his players that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte did at Euro 2016.