Spain booked a place in the Confederations Cup final in dramatic fashion as Jesus Navas buried the deciding penalty kick to send his club through by 7-6 count on Thursday.
The two international powerhouses battled it out for 90 draining minutes of regular time and each side had several quality scoring chances, but it went to extra time scoreless.
In the extra 30 minutes, the teams continued to push for a winning goal despite being physically and mentally exhausted. It was Spain that had the better opportunities and the fresher legs, but Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made a handful of spectacular saves to keep his team in the match.
In the shootout, both sides showed their calmness and quality. Italy won the coin toss and elected to shoot first with Antonio Candreva, who beat Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas with a cheeky chip shot.
Xavi responded with a goal for Spain, which was then answered by Alberto Aquilani. Andres Iniesta scored for Spain and Daniele De Rossi buried one for Italy.
Gerard Pique scored with Spain's third kick, but Sebastien Giovinco responded for the Italians. Sergio Ramos netted another shot for Spain, which was answered by Andrea Pirlo and Juan Mata scored with Spain's final attempt to make it 5-5 after five shooters.
The difference finally came when defender Leonardo Bonucci stepped up for Italy and skied his attempt well over the crossbar, opening the door for Spain.
On Spain's ensuing kick, Navas calmly deposited the ball into the lower left corner of the net past Buffon to send his side through to the final.
Spain will face Brazil in the final at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday, while the Italians will battle Uruguay in the third place match, also on Sunday.