Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina struck in extra-time to send Italy into the Euro 2020 quarter-finals – but underdogs Austria gave the Azzurri a real scare during their 2-1 win at Wembley on Saturday night.
The substitutes powered their shots home from tight angles in the 95th and 105th minutes of extra-time to put Italy in control, but Austrian replacement Sasa Kalajdzic (104) set up a nerve-jangling final six minutes, with the Italian supporters in the stadium gasping as Michael Gregoritsch shot just wide in the final moments.
The performance was far from what had been expected of an Italy side which had impressed through the group phase, but they eventually extended their unbeaten streak to 31 games and can now look forward to a mouth-watering clash with either Belgium or Portugal on Friday night in Munich.
That prospect seemed in serious doubt midway through the second half of the match. Italy had hit the woodwork through Ciro Immobile in a bright opening 45 minutes but they were sloppy after the break and an inspired Austria – playing in their very first Euros knockout round – saw Marko Arnautovic’s headed goal dramatically ruled out for offside by VAR.
Austria did eventually find a way past Gianluigi Donnarumma – the first goal Roberto Mancini’s side have conceded in 12 matches, denying them a share of an Italian record – but it was too late and Italy now move on to a test against one of two tournament favourites next week.