A second-half goal from substitute Fernando Forestieri took Italy into the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final for the first time since 2003 despite a determined effort from Hungary in Plzen.
The Siena midfielder came on for Giovanni Formiconi at half-time of an enthralling semi-final and struck the only goal of the game 20 minutes later, advancing down the left channel to steer a low finish into the far corner of the net.
Hungary had more shots but paid the price for being unable to unpick a typically miserly Italy defence as the Azzurrini held out to book their place in Saturday's final against Germany, when they will be bidding to win this competition for the second time.
Italy: Fiorillo, Darmian, Tagliani, Gentili, Formiconi (Forestieri 46), Albertazzi, Raggio Garibaldi, Poli, Bonaventura, Paloschi (Eusepi 85), Okaka Chuka.
Francesco Rocca (Italy coach):
"In the first half we found it really heavy going, which was a big surprise for me because I didn't recognise my team at all. At half-time, I spoke strongly to the players, changed some things and they improved a lot in the second half. We changed our tactics; in the first half we played 4-4-2 and tried to push them back, but that wasn't possible because they played two attacking midfielders between our midfield and defence. This was my mistake, I asked my players to do some things they'd never done before. In the second half, we used Forestieri and Paloschi out wide and Okaka Chuka on his own up front – so it was a 4-2-3-1 – and we also we performed physically a lot better. Then I started to recognise my players again.
"Technically Hungary were very good, especially in the first half. They really made it tough for us, especially with those two attacking midfielders, but in the second half they weren't as strong physically and we managed to get the win. Now we can enjoy it – we've reached the final and that's obviously really good for us."
Wednesday July 23
Italy 1-0 Hungary
Germany 2-1 Czech Republic (AET)