Giuseppe Rossi combined brilliantly with Sebastian Giovinco and scored in the Italian Olympic team's 1-1 friendly draw with Romania tonight.
Italy continued their preparations for the tournament in China next month with this friendly match in Pistoia against the Romania, but were missing Riccardo Montolivo with a late flu virus.
Rossi went on a mazy run between five defenders and his penalty appeals were waved away for a last-ditch tackle in the box.
A dangerous long-range strike shook the side-netting for Romania, but the Azzurrini were in control with Sebastian Giovinco also slaloming through yellow shirts until he was brought down outside the box. He took the resulting free kick, which the goalkeeper fingertipped over the bar.
Lazio full-back Lorenzo De Silvestri's error prompted a scare, but Tommaso Rocchi - the only over-age player in Italy's Olympic squad - was halted clear on goal for an incorrect offside flag.
It was an all-Biancocelesti battle when De Silvestri trapped a brilliant Claudio Marchisio ball over the top to leave him one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Lazio teammate Stefan Radu came flying in with a decisive tackle.
Moments later Romania required a goalline clearance to deny Rossi's tap-in from a Giovinco assist, as the two pint-sized youngsters continued to combine.
The goal was in the air and it arrived with a stroke of luck, as Rossi's strike from just inside the box took a massive deflection off a defender to loop under the bar.
Juventus youngster Giovinco tested the Romanian shot-stopper with two left-foot efforts in close succession.
Rossi's absolute rocket from 20 metres stung the palms of Tatarusanu in first half stoppages.
Coach Pierluigi Casiraghi made three changes at the break, introducing Andrea Consigli, Marco Motta and Daniele Dessena. Rimini goalkeeper Consigli was tested immediately by a tricky free kick and Rocchi turned a header off target.
Giovinco and Rossi exchanged passes again to tear up the Romanian defence and the Juventus 'atomic ant' nearly scored from an in swinging corner kick.
By the 70th minute, Casiraghi had effectively transformed the line-up with Milan-owned Ignazio Abate, Cagliari hitman Robert Acquafresca, Genoa's Salvatore Bocchetti, Andrea Ranocchia of Bari, Udinese's Antonio Candreva and Andrea Russotto of Napoli coming off the bench.
Substitute Candreva was extremely unlucky not to make it 2-0, as he ran on to an inspired Abate through ball and went round the goalkeeper only to slide the ball inches past the base of the near post.
Paolo De Ceglie created another good opportunity let down by Abate's poor finishing. It proved costly, as in the final minutes Romania snatched an equaliser when Italy had taken their foot off the pedal. A cross from the byline found Stancu to turn in from six yards, leaving Consigli with no chance.
The Azzurrini should have won moments later, but a save denied Abate and De Ceglie's follow-up cracked against the crossbar! It ended 1-1, but the first team showed promising things for the Olympic Games, above all the rapport between Giovinco and Rossi.
Italy: Viviano (Consigli 46); De Silvestri (Ranocchia 70), Coda (Motta 46), Criscito (Bocchetti 59), De Ceglie; Marchisio (Dessena 46), Cigarini (Candreva 70), Nocerino; Rossi (Abate 59), Rocchi (Acquafresca 59), Giovinco (Russotto 70).
Pierluigi Casiraghi (Italy coach):
"We worked hard over the past couple of days and I knew that we would have a little fatigue. However, we had an excellent performance and we created many chances in front of goal, and with more preperation, we hope to put them in the net next time.
"At the Olympics in 17 days time, many things can improve in terms of the physical condition, but we must also learn to avoid some minor errors we made today. We have a squad of talented players. They are very young and need time to grow and improve.
"Going to Beijing is already a great satisfaction, but we have a clear target, the medal for now is only a dream."
At the end of the match Casiraghi announced the final list of 18 players, plus four reserves, that will leave for China on Friday.
Goalkeepers: Andrea Consigli (Atalanta), Emiliano Viviano (Brescia).
Defenders: Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa), Andrea Coda (Udinese), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Paolo De Ceglie (Juventus), Lorenzo De Silvestri (Lazio), Marco Motta (Udinese).
Midfielders: Ignazio Abate (Milan), Luca Cigarini (Parma), Daniele Dessena (Parma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Antonio Nocerino (Palermo).
Forwards: Robert Acquafresca (Cagliari), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Tommaso Rocchi (Lazio), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal).
Reserves: Antonio Candreva (Udinese), Andrea Ranocchia (Arezzo), Andrea Russotto (Treviso), Salvatore Sirigu (Palermo).
Source: C4 Football Italia