Daniele Padelli and Yuto Nagatomo proved the penalty shoot-out heroes as Inter narrowly avoided a shock Coppa Italia last-16 loss to third-tier Pordenone following a 0-0 draw.
Wholesale changes from Luciano Spalletti backfired at San Siro – Serie C minnows Pordenone well worthy of taking the game to extra time after a laboured Inter squandered a glut of chances.
Indeed, it could have been better for the visitors had stand-in goalkeeper Padelli not managed to turn Simone Magnaghi's rasping first-half strike onto the woodwork.
Substitutes Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic injected intensity into Inter's play, though both spurned golden opportunities to beat the superb Simone Perilli.
Mauro Icardi was introduced as Spalletti's final roll of the dice, but even Inter's free-scoring captain could not correct their profligacy in front of goal as Pordenone held firm to reach spot-kicks.
However, the fairy tale ended there as – despite the best attempts of Perilli – Nagatomo stepped up to convert the winning penalty after Padelli had denied Giulio Parodi in sudden death.
3 - Inter Milan have gone to extra time in three of their last four Coppa Italia games. Surprised. #InterPordenone— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 12, 2017
Pordenone had to ride their luck at times and, having already kept out Eder Martin's stinging drive, Perilli came to his side's rescue again with just over 20 minutes played, rushing out to thwart Yann Karamoh.
Inter's failure to convert their early dominance into a goal almost proved costly on the half-hour mark as, moments after Giovanni Formiconi just failed to round off a well-worked set-piece routine, Padelli tipped Magnaghi's thunderous strike onto the upright.
While Luca Lulli also went close for Pordenone, Inter should have been ahead on the stroke of half-time, but Karamoh could only lash over when one-on-one with Perilli.
Spalletti had seen enough, Andrea Pinamonti making way for first-team mainstay Brozovic at the restart – and the playmaker should have done better when teed up by Karamoh.
Pordenone were quick to remind Inter of their threat as Miguel Maza went close with a strike that deflected agonisingly wide off Roberto Gagliardini.
Perisic was Spalletti's next change but he, like Brozovic, passed up an immediate chance to put Inter ahead when he nudged wide from Joao Cancelo's cross.
Inter finally looked set to take the lead in the 86th minute, but Icardi – Spalletti's final substitute – could not head home to avoid the additional 30 minutes.
Icardi got through again in the early stages of extra time, only to shoot wide under pressure from Perilli.
Pordenone's goalkeeper was finally beaten in the 104th minute, but Icardi's header, which looked destined for the bottom-left corner, crashed off the post.
Perisic wasted the chance to atone for his earlier miss when he got through just after the restart, thumping a venomous effort into the side-netting as Pordenone survived to take it to penalties.
But Pordenone's dreams came to an end in a dramatic shoot-out as, in spite of two excellent saves from Perilli, it was his counterpart Padelli who did the damage.
Inter's goalkeeper brilliantly kept out Parodi's attempt and defender Nagatomo maintained his cool to send Spalletti's side into the last eight, with the relief evident.
|Ronaldo in the past as Casemiro backs Lopetegui after Madrid loss|
|With our ´cojones´ Atletico can beat anyone – Costa revels in Super Cup glory|
|Super Cup loss doesn´t change Real Madrid transfer policy, says Lopetegui|
|Griezmann: Super Cup triumph justifies staying at Atletico|
|Valverde defends Suarez performances|
|Simeone´s eclipses Aragones as Atletico´s top coach with seventh title|
|Rockets GM: LeBron James is ´the greatest ever´|
|Salihamidzic, Kovac not standing in way of Rudy exit|
|Jaguars DB Ramsey calls Bills QB Allen ´trash´|
|Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 4 (after extra time): Saul stunner seals Super Cup glory|
|Ex-India Test captain Wadekar dies aged 77|
|Gundogan ready to step up in absence of injured De Bruyne|
|Djokovic overcomes illness to see off Mannarino|
|Diego Costa nets fastest UEFA Super Cup goal ever|
|Everton feared missing out on Mina after World Cup strike|
|Barcelona 3 Boca Juniors 0: Messi, Malcom net as Barca win Joan Gamper Trophy|
|All Blacks stick with Barrett as Mo´unga misses out altogether|
|Modric benched for UEFA Super Cup clash with Atletico Madrid|
|Cipriani charged with assault after Jersey nightclub incident|
|Hamburg 1 Bayern Munich 4: Wagner and Muller hit braces in comeback victory|
|WATCH: Messi scores first goal as Barcelona captain|
|Iniesta, Xavi and Puyol were great teachers, says new Barcelona captain Messi|
|Moses retires from international football|
|Goals, assists, set-pieces - The stats that show De Bruyne is almost irreplaceable for City|
|Bergeron wins mammoth 24-man U.S. Amateur play-off|
|Hart to Burnley "not rocket science", says Dyche|
|Leipzig, Schalke reject Rudy transfer rumours|
|Yedlin knee injury not serious, Newcastle confirm|
|Bartomeu satisfied with Barcelona squad amid Pogba links|
|Kevin De Bruyne suffers knee injury|
|Steelers QB Roethlisberger in concussion protocol|
|Kehrer to PSG not complete, say Schalke|
|Hopoate handed 10-year ban from NSWRL|
|Is this worth it? Injuries prompted Te´o to consider future|
|Croatia hero Subasic retires from international football|
|Iniesta makes it two in two for Vissel Kobe|
|Chelsea send out defensive duo on loan|
|Zaha 2023: Palace star means more than goals|
|De Jong set for Ajax stay despite Barcelona interest|
|Serena ´still at the very beginning´ of comeback|
|Ajax can benefit from Mourinho approach - Blind|
|Foley not convinced by reports All Blacks will drop Barrett|
|Zaha signs Crystal Palace extension|
|Burnley midfielder O´Neill makes A-League loan move|
|Godin yet to renew with Atletico Madrid amid transfer interest|
|Federer ´feeling better every day´ after Wimbledon disappointment|
|Kante comfortable with surprise new Chelsea role|
|Rugby Championship 2018: The numbers behind New Zealand´s dominance|
|LaLiga 2018-19: Bale ready to be Madrid´s shining light after five years in Ronaldo´s shadow|
|Rodgers unimpressed by absence of ´fit´ Boyata|
|Braves´ Acuna Jr. has arrived as a true MLB star|
|LA Galaxy 2 Colorado Rapids 2: Jackson´s deflected strike sees spoils shared|
|Victory offer postponed retirement, says Honda|
|Kyrgios forgets tennis shoes, Federer back in business|
|Williams knocked out as Garcia and Pliskova advance in Ohio|
|Kvitova sees off Serena in Cincinnati classic|
|Federer dispatches Gojowczyk in Cincinnati|
|Stead succeeds Hesson as New Zealand coach|
|Duminy encouraged despite South Africa´s mixed results|
|Thiem withdraws from Cincinnati Masters|
|Edwards joins Ospreys in consultancy role|
|Former Arsenal and Barcelona player Song joins Sion|
|I´m very happy with what I have - Spalletti not desperate for Modric|
|Roethlisberger evaluated for concussion after practice|
|Brady ´absolutely´ expects to face Eagles|
|Rugby Championship 2018: Reasons for optimism and concern for Australia|
|Wentz ´gonna be close´ for Eagles opener|
|Cleveland ´victory fridges´ to unlock beer if Browns finally win|
|England´s Watson suffers injury setback|
|Mariners reinstate Cano after 80-game suspension|