Italy face Azerbaijan on Saturday knowing a win would guarantee them qualification for next summer's European Championships in France.
And the 2012 finalists got off to the perfect start, Sampdoria striker Eder stabbing the ball past the goalkeeper after a brilliant pass from Marco Verratti.
What a feed from Marco Verratti to Eder! https://t.co/u8KDaV3qKc 🇮🇹🇮🇹— ItalianFootballDaily (@ItalianFD) October 10, 2015
But the lead was shortlived, as Dimitrij Nazarov capitalised on some messy Italian defending to draw the hosts level.
Stephan El Shaarawy re-established Italy's lead shortly before half-time, rolling the ball into the net after Antonio Candreva's pass left him with an open goal.
Manchester United right-back Matteo Darmian added a third after 65 minutes, his powerful strike deflecting off a defender's heel and wrong-footing the goalkeeper on its way to the net.
Darmian scores his first goal for Italy!! Azzurri 3-1 Azerbaijan https://t.co/eY0E4kr9QF— Serie A News (@TransfersCalcio) October 10, 2015
Italy started the day top of group H, two points clear of second-placed Norway. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, are fifth with just six points from eight games.