Pierluigi Casiraghi’s Azzurrini side are through to the Final of the Toulon Tournament, but they had to rely on penalty kicks to see off Japan.
Italy’s Olympic warm-up has been going according to plan and Casiraghi’s men were confident after three wins from three in the Group stages in France.
However, Japan posed a serious threat and ensured that it was a nervy evening for their more illustrious opponents.
Catania striker Takayuki Morimoto looked dangerous and Empoli goalkeeper Davide Bassi had to continue his impressive form to deny him in a one-on-one.
Diminutive Juventus playmaker Sebastian Giovinco was on inspirational form again, but Italy couldn’t find a breakthrough.
Davide Lanzafame thought he deserved a penalty when he was brought down in the box towards the end of the 90 minutes, but the game went to extra-time.
Substitute Graziano Pelle looked sharp before the best chance fell to Udinese’s Antonio Candreva, but his header was a whisker away with the goalkeeper beaten.
And so it went to spot kicks and Casiraghi’s side gave a virtuoso display from 12 yards.
Salvatore Bocchetti, Ignazio Abate, Luca Cigarini, Candreva and Giovinco all converted, while Bassi saved one to seal a 5-4 win and a Final date against Chile on Thursday evening.
Italy: Bassi, Coda, Bocchetti, Motta, De Silvestri, Cigarini, Nocerino, Marchisio (Candreva 75), Lanzafame (Pelle 45), Osvaldo (Abate 69), Giovinco.
Pierluigi Casiraghi (Italy coach)
"The match was a difficult one. It was the fourth match in eight days. We missed a lot of opportunities because of the lack rest and freshness. On top of the outcome, I am very happy with the attitude of my players. We tried to win the match throughout. I am satisfied."
27-05-08: Chile 2-1 Ivory Coast
27-05-08: Italy 0-0 Japan (5-4 on pens)
Source: C4 Football Italia