Second-half goals from Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo earned Italy a hard-fought victory against Armenia in Yerevan, allowing the UEFA EURO 2012 runners-up to remain top of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group B.
Andrea Pirlo's penalty gave the Azzurri an early lead but Henrik Mkhitaryan made it 1-1 before the half-hour mark. There was no response to headers from AS Roma duo De Rossi and Osvaldo, however, as Cesare Prandelli's side earned three important points.
Italy started well and Osvaldo quickly called Roman Berezovski into action with a right-footed shot. The Armenia goalkeeper then made a superb diving save, clawing away a Pirlo free-kick that looked destined for the top corner.
Berezovski was again up to the task after a close-range back-heel from Riccardo Montolivo, though the Italy midfielder picked up the rebound and earned a penalty as Hrayr Mkoyan handled the ball. Pirlo sent Berezovski the wrong way from the spot.
Italy wasted several opportunities to double their lead, the biggest coming when Osvaldo fired over following a nice pass from Pirlo. The visitors soon paid for the lapse as Mkhitaryan ran through the Italy defence to beat Gianluigi Buffon with a precise low shot.
After the interval Giovinco missed the target from close range after a fine run, while Davit Manoyan forced Buffon into a testing save with his volley. On 64 minutes De Rossi restored Italy's lead, heading in Pirlo's cross. Nine minutes from time the Roma midfielder sent in a free-kick from the left that allowed club-mate Osvaldo to all but seal victory.