Italy came from two goals down to run out 4-3 winners over Japan in a Group A 2013 Confederations Cup match at the Arena Pernambuco on Wednesday night.
The consequences of the seven goal thriller saw Italy progress into the semifinals of the cup competition with a game to spare while Japan bow out of the tournament despite a heroic effort on the night.
It was a game to remember but it kicked off at a rather dull pace before the match was sparked into life in the 21st minute after Keisuke Honda gave Japan the lead after converting from the penalty spot, 1-0.
Japan then doubled their lead 12 minutes later, throwing Italy into shock, as Shinji Kagawa found the back of the net after latching onto a loose ball inside the box and producing an expert finish, 2-0.
Italy, though, were not to be outdone and started their comeback four minutes before the half time whistle as Daniele de Rossi met a corner-kick with a powerful header to pull a goal back for the Italians, 2-1.
Italy were a little unlucky not to find the equaliser a minute into injury time of the first half as Emanuele Giaccherini hit the post after latching onto a good ball into the box.
Five minutes after the restart, though, and Italy did manage to level matters, somewhat fortuitously, as Atsuto Uchida turned the ball into his own net attempting to clear a Sebastian Giovinco cross, 2-2.
Three minutes later and Italy found themselves in front after Mario Balotelli converted from the penalty spot, 3-2.
Japan, however, were in a fighting mood and managed to level matters in the 69th minute as Shinji Okazaki headed home a well delivered Yasuhito Endo free-kick, 3-3.
Japan were unlucky not to take the lead in the 81st minute as Okazaki hit the post with a firm effort from 12-yards out and the rebound was headed against the post by Kagawa.
Five minutes later and the Japanese were made to rue that miss as Italy took the lead through Sebastian Giovinco, who tapped home what proved to be the winning goal and seal a dramatic victory for Italy, 4-3.