Zambia let a late lead slip to fall to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of 10-man Italy in their 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup quarter-final in Suwon on Monday.
Young Chipolopolo wasted a host of chances to win the game and could not make their numerical advantage count despite goals from Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala.
They led with two minutes remaining on the clock, but after Federico Dimarco powered home a brilliant free-kick to equalise, Luca Vido found a winner in extra-time.
It means bitter disappointment for Zambia, the last remaining African side in the competition, who will be dreaming of what might have been after an excellent campaign in which they entertained and delighted the South Korean crowds.
Zambia took the lead inside four minutes as Daka provided a cool finish to an expert through-ball from Sakala.
They came close to doubling that advantage on 15 minutes when Emmanuel Banda's free-kick beat the Italian wall, but goalkeeper Andrea Zaccagno flung himself to his left and made a fine one-handed stop.
Andrea Favilli headed just wide at the other end for the Italians, before Riccardo Orsolini produced arguably the miss of the tournament.
A cross from the right eluded the Zambian defence and goalkeeper Mangani Banda, leaving Orsolini with an open goal, but instead of putting his simple header on target, he could only steer it wide.
Italy were reduced to 10 men just before half-time when Giuseppe Pezzella was adjudged by the Video Assistant Referee to have pulled back on 17-year-old Edward Chilufya as he bore down on goal.
He received a red card, but crucially the infringement was ruled as outside the box and not in, and Zambia only received a free-kick and not the penalty they were looking for.
The Italians found an equaliser five minutes into the second half when Orsolini made up for his earlier miss when he this time got his header on target as the Zambian defence again stood static.
The African side thought they had the lead again when Daka headed home, but the goal was ruled out for offside, when replays showed he was probably level. This time the VAR was not used.
Sakala had forced a brilliant save from Zaccagno before he gave Zambia the lead on 84 minutes. He collected the ball just inside the box and unleashed a bullet-like shot that this time gave the keeper no chance.
But just as they did against Germany in the last round, Zambia could not hold onto the lead late on and Dimarco fired home a brilliant 30-yard free-kick that nestled into the bottom corner.
And Italy hit the front in the second half of extra-time when Dimarco swung over a corner and substitute Vido powered a header past keeper Banda.