Alberto Gilardino scored a hat-trick in the last 13 minutes to cap a remarkable turnaround for Italy and lift them to victory over Cyprus.
Gilardino, whose last-gasp equaliser against Ireland on Saturday clinched top spot in Group Eight, ensured the Azzurri remained unbeaten in their World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Fiorentina striker was handed a starting berth in the familiar surroundings of Parma, where he spent three seasons, and he delivered in a big way.
Gilardino was an important member of Italy's World Cup winning side in 2006 and his last two performances have probably secured a place in next year's team that will travel to South Africa.
Italy were made to work after Yiannis Okkas opened the scoring in the 12th minute before Chrysostomos Michail extended Cyprus' advantage early in the second half.
But Gilardino's heroics saved Italy's blushes in the final stages. He reduced the deficit 12 minutes from time, adding the equaliser three minutes later before scoring the winner in the dying seconds. The result means Italy finish five points clear of the Republic of Ireland in Group Eight.
As expected, Italy coach Marcello Lippi made wholesale changes to his team, fielding a new starting XI from the side which claimed the 2-2 draw in Dublin.
Cyprus got off to a good start and took the lead early on. Konstantinos Makridis served Okkas inside the area and his angled effort beat Italy goalkeeper Federico Marchetti. Okkas should have scored his second on the 18th minute but having beaten the offside trap, he fired high over the bar from inside the area.
Italy almost equalised on the half-hour mark with Gaetano D'Agostino's free-kick going just wide of the near post with Cyprus goalkeeper Sofronis Avgousti already beaten.
On the stroke of half-time Italy again almost restored parity but Quagliarella's stinging drive from Gilardino's assist went high.
Shortly after the re-start, the visitors struck again. Efstathios Aloneftis' cross from the left found Michail inside the area and his powerful right-footed effort from close-range beat Marchetti.
The Azzurri reacted with Gennaro Gattuso warming the palms of Avgousti with a stinging drive from distance. In the 75th minute, Avgousti made another stunning clearance from Gilardino's close-range header, but Italy's efforts paid off soon after.
Gilardino latched onto Mauro Camoranesi's cross from the right before heading towards the far post where Avgousti could not reach. Cyprus had little time to react as Gilardino hit again, anticipating his marker in the six-yard box to fire into the back of the net from Quagliarella's assist.
The visitors surged forward and almost got back in front with ten minutes remaining but Konstantinos Charalampidis' strike from the distance was met by a fine save from Marchetti.
And it was the Azzurri who had the last say with Gilardino bringing the fans at the Ennio Tardini stadium to their feet. Gilardino was at full stretch to tap in Quagliarella's cross from the right and hand the Azzurri the win.
Italy coach Marcelo Lippi launched a scathing attack on the fans in Parma for the way they criticised the national team during their 3-2 win over Cyprus.
"I am furious like a beast,'' he said. "If anybody has forgotten this, on the field out there were the world champions. That means that we have won a tournament against all of the top nations in the world.
"These lads are the world champions, they have just qualified to try and become world champions again, but do you think it is right to hear fans telling us to get to work at the first sign of difficulty? It's easy in the end for them to all cheer, though. I think it is shameful. The problem is a lack of respect towards these extraordinary players who were
in trouble, but reacted and then even won the game.''
Lippi changed his entire team after Saturday's 2-2 draw in the Republic of Ireland which clinched Italy's place at next summer's World Cup. But that did not give the fans the right to criticise, according to Lippi. "Saturday was a great result to get to another World Cup and defend this title and evidently qualifying in advance of this game made us happy and we celebrated it,'' he explained.
"I promised that I would make changes and I changed all 11 players. Whenever does a coach change 11 players? Of course it was not going to be easy for these 11 players, also because they (Cyprus) put four past Bulgaria at the weekend, but the result was not important to me.
"If I had been interested in the result, I would not have changed all 11 players. But those people, who were obviously a minority, start shouting for us to get to work should probably go start working themselves.''
Lippi was joined in his rage by Cyprus coach Angelos Anastasiadis, albeit for different reasons. Although the Cypriots were only playing for pride, this defeat still hurt as
much as if qualification for South Africa had depended on it. "I am very unhappy today,'' said Anastasiadis. "We started and we ended our qualifying campaign like this and I and my team are really sad.
"We lost this ourselves. We could easily have won this game, but maybe we just lacked the experience to get a great victory. My players need to understand that they were up against the world champions, not just any team, and we could have won easily. To lead 2-0 against the world champions and lose 3-2 is a bitter defeat.''
If it came as any consolation to Anastadiadis, Lippi did at least admit that fortune had played a major part in his side's two victories over Cyprus in the qualifying campaign. "They threatened us, but they lost,'' he said. "They did not deserve to lose neither here nor over there.''