Honours were even in the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C qualifier in Belgrade after a deflected Serbia goal from Branislav Ivanović cancelled out an early Italy strike from Claudio Marchisio.
Serbia knew that a win would secure second place but were stunned when Marchisio got a foot on a Giuseppe Rossi pass to gave the Azzurri an early lead. Serbia responded in sterling fashion, and Ivanović's equalilser was just reward for a gutsy home performance. However, they must beat Slovenia in Maribor on Tuesday if they are to deny Estonia second place in the section.
The hosts' plans to take the game to group winners Italy went awry barely two minutes into the game. Rossi controlled a long ball from defence on the edge of the area, slipped it through to Marchisio, and the Juventus midfielder stretched to poke the ball past Bojan Jorgačević.
Serbia regrouped well, and mounted a series of menacing counterattacks. With most of their threat coming down the left flank, it was no surprise that the lively Zoran Tošić was at the centre of Serbia's 26th-minute equaliser. His dangerous cross forced a corner and when Miloš Krasić's delivery rebounded out to Tošić, the PFC CSKA Moskva midfielder rocketed a shot goalwards which the Chelsea FC defender Ivanović deflected round Buffon.
Vladimir Petrović's men looked to push on after the break, and Manchester City FC defender Aleksandar Kolarov almost delivered straight away, his shot from distance denied by a diving Buffon. Tošić broke forward and fed the onrushing Kolarov whose first-time effort was blocked by Buffon, and Marko Pantelić headed just over on the hour.
Italy were hanging on but as Serbia tired the Azzurri forged openings of their own. Rossi had a sight of goal on 82 minutes while a shot from substitute Sebastian Giovinco missed by a whisker with five minutes left.