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.
|Jayasuriya: I always conduct myself with integrity and transparency|
|Northern Ireland stars hurt by lack of club football, says O´Neill|
|Rodgers inspires late Packers comeback|
|Brewers blank Dodgers to take 2-1 NLCS lead|
|Cavaliers, Nance agree to four-year extension|
|Ramos wants Spain to believe in Luis Enrique´s team|
|De Laurentiis: I´ve spoken to Genoa and agent about Piatek|
|Kaka tips bright future for Paqueta after Milan agreement|
|Suns star Booker set to return for season opener|
|Warriors coach Kerr not expecting fast start from NBA champs|
|Fultz to start for 76ers as Brown eyes NBA Finals|
|Maltese champions Valletta want Usain Bolt|
|It would have been normal to kill them! Luis Enrique slams abysmal Spain|
|Seahawks, Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen dies aged 65|
|Red Sox ace Sale released from hospital, still set for game five|
|Beer-throwing fan banned by Patriots|
|Southgate lauds ´tremendous´ attackers after famous Spain win|
|Djokovic closing in on summit as he scales new heights|
|Monaco the natural move for Henry - Martinez|
|Ending England drought a ´beautiful feeling´ – Sterling|
|Halep to face Pavlyuchenkova in Moscow comeback|
|NBA 2018-19: Five non-LeBron James storylines to follow|
|Spain 2 England 3: Kane inspires Three Lions as Sterling ends drought in style|
|Bosnia-Herzegovina 2 Northern Ireland 0: Dzeko double leaves O´Neill´s side on the brink|
|Mannarino stops the rot in Moscow|
|Neymar pleased Brazil will not face Messi in Argentina clash|
|Buccaneers fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith after loss to Falcons|
|´Surprised´ Deschamps accepts he could´ve made more effort with Koscielny|
|Kuwait 0 Australia 4: Socceroos deliver win for new coach Arnold|
|Van Dijk fit for Liverpool return - Koeman|
|NBA 2018-19: Eastern Conference predictions|
|NBA 2018-19: Five rookies to watch|
|Denly replaces injured Dawson in England ODI squad|
|Low confirms under-fire Neuer to start against France|
|NBA 2018-19: Western Conference predictions|
|Bolt offered two-year deal by European club, says agent|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron the Laker - what it means|
|Griezmann ahead of Mbappe for Ballon d´Or - Modric|
|Billy Vunipola ruled out with fractured arm|
|Get the chequebook out! - Mayweather talks up potential Khabib clash|
|Amla ruled out of Australia tour|
|Class act Hamilton more complete than ever - Wolff|
|NBA 2018-19: It´s a big season for - Ball, Kawhi, Carmelo, Love & Cousins|
|Bellew: I have no fear of Usyk|
|Birthday boy Ozil is the most creative player in Europe|
|CSA reveals De Villiers and Rabada involved in Mzansi Super League|
|FA condemns England supporters involved in trouble in Seville|
|Gascoigne hits back over Scottish Hall of Fame snub|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron closing in on Jordan, Curry chasing Miller and Allen|
|Ter Stegen should start ahead of Neuer for Germany – Matthaus|
|England´s Sterling impressed by Sancho´s work ethic|
|Vandoorne seals switch to Formula E|
|Halep to end 2018 as world number one|
|Sri Lanka´s Jayasuriya charged by ICC with breaching anti-corruption code|
|Vermaelen out for six weeks with hamstring injury|
|LeBron and Irving did not fall out, says ex-Cavs trainer|
|Ramsey out of Wales´ clash with Republic of Ireland|
|Bolt angry with drugs test|
|Bad luck is not a coincidence – Kimmich concerned by Germany form|
|Mahomes: Chiefs need to win like Brady and the Patriots|
|Schuster warns Real Madrid not to panic-buy striker in January|
|We´re here to win! - Paine not happy celebrating a draw|
|Injured Thauvin out of Germany clash|
|Southgate hits out at early Premier League start|
|Modric to Inter talk is ´fantasy´, says Guardiola|
|Pats hand first loss to Chiefs after wild shoot-out|
|Cowboys, Ravens dominate as Pats beat Chiefs in NFL classic|
|Brady becomes first QB to 200 regular-season wins in NFL|
|Red Sox level series against Astros|
|Mbappe leaves red-faced Dembele on his backside|