Cristiano Biraghi’s last-gasp winner kept Italy’s chances of reaching the Nations League final four alive as it secured a 1-0 triumph away to Poland on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini’s men looked to be heading for a disappointing stalemate due to poor finishing but Biraghi bundled in from close range in stoppage time to set up an intriguing League A Group 3 contest with pacesetters Portugal in November.
Italy were completely dominant in the first half but somehow failed to take the lead, with Jorginho and Lorenzo Insigne both hitting the crossbar.
Poland made a marked improvement in the second period, though Italy remained the controlling force and finally clinched a deserved three points right at the end, moving them to within two points of Portugal.
It did not take Italy long to establish control and they almost opened the scoring in the second minute, as Jorginho struck the crossbar from 25 yards.
Poland had another lucky escape after half an hour – Insigne prodding Federico Bernardeschi’s cross onto the frame of the goal.
Italy’s dominance only increased as half-time approached, but the breakthrough eluded them due to the heroics of Wojciech Szczesny, who produced fine saves to deny Jorginho, Alessandro Florenzi and Giorgio Chiellini.
The hosts looked more solid after the break and finally tested Gianluigi Donnarumma just before the hour, with the goalkeeper thwarting Kamil Grosicki from a tight angle.
Shortly after Bernardeschi headed wide from close range, Donnarumma again had to be alert, parrying another Grosicki effort away and then seeing Arkadiusz Milik blast the rebound over.
It was ultimately Italy who took the spoils, however, as Kevin Lasagna flicked on a corner delivery and Biraghi nudged it over the line from close range.
In other Uefa Nations League results:
Israel 2-0 Albania
Lithuania 1-4 Montenegro
Azerbaijan 1-1 Malta
Russia 2-0 Turkey
Faroe Islands 1-1 Kosovo
Romania 0-0 Serbia