Wing Edoardo Padovani scored a late try as Italy stunned their hosts Wales 22-21 to secure a first ever win in Cardiff and end their 36-game losing streak in the Six Nations on Saturday.
A brilliant break from rookie fullback Ange Capuozzo set up the score for Padovani, and when fly-half Paolo Garbisi kicked the conversion from in front of the posts on the final whistle, Italy had secured their magic moment that left some players in tears.
It was fully deserved, too. They bullied Wales at the breakdown and put in a stout defensive display, something that had been a weakness in recent years, to secure one of the more famous wins in their rugby history and show their continued improvement under coach Kieran Crowley.
Centre Owen Watkin and wing Josh Adams scored tries for Wales, who put in a mostly flat performance and missed the chance to celebrate 100 caps for flyhalf Dan Biggar and 150 for lock Alun Wyn Jones in the style they would have wished for.
The pressure will now be squarely on Wales coach Wayne Pivac, who has guided his side to just a single win in five games this season and will have to answer plenty of questions about the direction of his team 18 months out from the next World Cup.
Key to Italy’s win was cutting down their error count, but Wales also failed to put them under pressure for extended periods with a limp attacking display and an over-reliance on the boot of Biggar.
It took the Welsh 27 minutes to get their first score as they took the ball through multiple phases, stretching the Italy defence and waiting for the inevitable gaps to appear, one of which Watkin burst through.
That should have been a blueprint for the rest of the game, but Wales were rarely able to apply that same pressure with ball in hand.
Wales were penalized twice in quick succession at the breakdown, and Garbisi and the bigger boot of Padovani landed both to give the visitors a 12-7 lead at half time.
Italy’s tenacity in the battle continued into the second period and wing Monty Ioane looked certain to score in the corner before Josh Adams performed a super try-saving tackle.
It was the Welsh who scored next, with Lake diving over from close range after a driving maul moved him within striking distance.
When a sniping finish was needed, there is none better than Adams, who took a pass on the edge of the Italian 22, stepped inside and beat four defenders before scoring under the posts on 68 minutes.
But the home side could not see out the game, and Capuozzo and Padovani combined to win it for the visitors with the last move of the match.