Matteo Politano came off the bench to snatch a late winner for Italy, breaking the deadlock in the 94th minute against United States.
Roberto Mancini's side toiled for much of Tuesday's international friendly in Genk but finally found a way to beat impressive goalkeeper Ethan Horvath with mere seconds remaining in added time.
Politano only came on as a substitute with three minutes to play but he dashed into the box to finish sweetly at the end of a rare incisive attack from the Azzurri.
Italy have now kept three clean sheets in a row but Mancini will be concerned about how long it took his team to break down an inexperienced United States side.
Horvath denied Federico Chiesa in the third minute, the Fiorentina forward then rifling wide of the far post.
In a lively start for the Azzurri, the busy Horvath blocked a Leonardo Bonucci effort after the centre-back was picked out by a clever free-kick from debutant Stefano Sensi.
Horvath tipped over a dipping 20-yard curler from Domenico Berardi in the 39th minute and had to be alert to push away Marco Verratti's inswinging free-kick as Italy kept pushing for the opener.
Half-time substitute Vincenzo Grifo delivered a chipped cross that Verratti could not quite jump high enough to convert as the onslaught continued after the interval.
United States, for whom Christian Pulisic became their youngest captain of the modern era, finally recorded a shot in the 63rd minute when Kellyn Acosta's free-kick found Walker Zimmerman at the back post, but Salvatore Sirigu palmed the defender's header away.
Grifo forced yet another save from Horvath and teenage striker Moise Kean dragged a decent chance wide on his debut as Italy grew increasingly desperate.
But in the last minute of added time, Verratti fed Roberto Gagliardini and the Inter midfielder laid off a clever pass for the onrushing Politano to collect and beat the unfortunate Horvath.
It is seven games in a row under Mancini without a goal in the first half for Italy and their lack of a clinical edge in front of goal was clear to see. Plenty of chances were created and Horvath had a lot to do, but not many of his saves were particularly challenging to pull off. It took Inter team-mates Politano and Gagliardini, both late substitutes, to unlock the US defence.
Horvath repels Azzurri attack
United States were grateful for goalkeeper Horvath, the 23-year-old keeping Italy at bay almost single-handedly. He was perhaps fortunate Italy's finishing was so poor until Politano's late impact, but the Club Brugge goalkeeper showed excellent reflexes. He did not deserve to be on the losing side.
Berardi and Chiesa lacklustre
Italy have lacked an elite striker for some time and on this evidence, neither Berardi nor Chiesa have the quality required to score regularly at international level. Their work outside the box was adequate but when the chances came they failed to make the most of the opportunities.
Focus turns to domestic duties as the next international break is not until March.
|Gronkowski on Miami Miracle: ´Got to make that tackle´|
|Tottenham youngster Walker-Peters signs on until 2023|
|Juventus ´more of a family´ than Real Madrid - Ronaldo|
|Kingsley Coman contemplates retirement if injury nightmare continues|
|McVay ´sick´ over offensive failings as Rams coach takes blame for loss|
|Calleja axed as Villarreal coach|
|Kenyan Drake on Miami Miracle: I couldn´t let Gronk tackle me!|
|Ronaldo: I deserved Ballon d´Or, the numbers don´t lie|
|Rugby Australia to make Cheika decision this month|
|England defender Gomez signs new Liverpool deal|
|Ronaldo wants to see Messi follow him to Italy|
|Neymar happy to play in any position for PSG - Draxler|
|Paine insists he is ´fine´ after taking blow to finger|
|Ponzio: River players will be ´idolised´ for Libertadores success|
|Champions League permutations: How Inter, PSG and Liverpool can progress|
|Kohli: India were better and deserved to win|
|Bears shut down Goff, Rams|
|India survive dramatic finish against Australia|
|Klopp calls for electric Anfield atmosphere against Napoli|
|Saints clinch back-to-back NFC South titles, Bears trump Rams|
|Bucks improve to 2-0 against Raptors with win in Toronto|
|Black Caps include Patel for Sri Lanka Tests|
|Maidana: River want Real Madrid clash|
|Cowboys top Eagles in OT behind stellar Cooper display|
|AC Milan evaluating Fabregas signing – Leonardo|
|WATCH: Steelers´ chance at game-tying field goal slips away|
|Hayne will plead not guilty to charges, says lawyer|
|Boca boss Schelotto: The only thing I feel is sadness|
|Cardinals´ Fitzgerald makes NFL history with most receptions for one team|
|River Plate´s Copa Libertadores star Gonzalo Martinez confirms January departure|
|Klopp: I was never worried about Salah´s form|
|Packers QB Rodgers sets NFL record for most passes without an interception|
|World Cup bulking hampered Man United form – Lukaku|
|Leonardo rules out Ibrahimovic Milan return|
|Warriors´ Green to return against Timberwolves|
|I feel for him… we´ll make it work – Butler responds to Embiid´s frustration|
|Torino draw no missed opportunity for misfiring AC Milan, claims Gattuso|
|We´ll always be linked together forever - Wade reflects on playing with James before final match-up|
|O´Sullivan wins record seventh UK title|
|Chiefs secure playoff berth, Saints win NFC South|
|River Plate 3 Boca Juniors 1 (aet, 5-3 agg): Quintero and Martinez clinch Libertadores title in extr|
|WATCH: Chiefs QB Mahomes throws no-look pass|
|Dolphins defeat Patriots on miraculous final play|
|Kizzire eagle snatches QBE Shootout victory|
|AC Milan 0 Torino 0: Donnarumma shines, Cutrone misses late chance|
|Back to the drawing board for West Indies - Chase|
|Copa Libertadores: Messi and Griezmann among stars in Madrid for River-Boca Superclasico|
|Brady sets NFL record for most career TD passes|
|Copa Libertadores: Tevez named on Boca bench for Superclasico final|
|Premier League needs VAR, right now! - Benitez fumes over Dean´s decisions|
|McCall expects Itoje to fit for the Six Nations|
|Solari salutes Real Madrid character after ´ugly´ Huesca win|
|Berbatov defends under-fire Lukaku|
|Sarries crush Blues to maintain unbeaten start|
|Newcastle United 1 Wolves 2: Doherty punishes Yedlin red with late winner|
|Deeney jokes he´ll ´smash´ former Watford star Richarlison|
|Huesca 0 Real Madrid 1: Bale ends drought as Solari´s men edge to victory|
|Ponting: Umpires not looking at no-balls|
|Bale ends longest LaLiga goal drought|
|Porter backs Brees for MVP, Saints for Super Bowl|
|Verstappen eyeing 2019 title fight|
|Wall ´shouldn´t have played´ against Cavaliers after scoring just one point|
|Hazard: Man City the best team in the Premier League despite Chelsea win|
|LeBron explains why he gave a Grizzlies employee his game-worn shoes|
|Bangladesh cruise to ODI victory as seamers punish Windies|
|Football will win over violence, claims CONMEBOL president|
|Alcorcon support Reus Deportiu over unpaid players|
|Saponara explains cheeky celebration after last-gasp leveller|
|Godin and Filipe Luis return to Atletico training|
|Kick It Out condemns alleged racist abuse of Sterling|