Italy striker Luca Toni scored with two headers to sink Scotland in the Euro 2008 qualifying match in Bari.
Italy celebrate the first of Luca Toni's goals in Bari
The towering Toni was left unmarked to power in an early goal from a Massimo Oddo free-kick.
Scotland rallied briefly in the closing stages of the first half but Italy controlled the game for long spells.
After an intensive period of pressure from the World Cup winners, Toni again found the net with ease after slack Scottish play on 70 minutes.
The Scots are now tied at the top of Group B on 12 points with Ukraine and France, while Italy are two points behind.
However, Scotland have played one more game than the other nations.
Scotland looked out of their depth in the opening stages, struggling to retain the ball and committing a number of clumsy fouls.
Italy were enjoying a lot of possession but did not have to work too hard for the opening goal on 12 minutes.
Oddo flighted a straightforward free-kick into the penalty box and Toni left Stephen McManus trailing to power in a header from eight yards.
Full-backs Gianluca Zambrotta and Oddo were causing Scotland problems with their strong running but Scotland did get forward occasionally.
Barry Ferguson broke in behind the home defence but his chipped cross was cut out by Marco Materazzi, while Lee McCulloch forced a save from Gianluigi Buffon with a dipping shot from 25 yards.
The sliding McCulloch was a yard away from a dangerous low cross from Gary Teale and Kenny Miller made a mess of a header from a Gary Naysmith delivery.
The second half was three minutes old when Antonio Di Natale was allowed to charge in on goal but Craig Gordon thrust out a hand to keep out the angled shot.
The same player broke clear again minutes later and the Hearts goalkeeper used an outstretched leg to deny him for a second time.
Gordon smothered a deflected drive from Mauro Camoranesi and Toni glanced a header wide as Italy poured forward in search of a killer second goal.
Toni shot straight at Gordon before the prolific Fiorentina striker grabbed his second of the night.
Substitute Shaun Maloney played a poor pass to Naysmith and the ball was presented to Camoranesi who ran on to flight in a cross for the unchallenged Toni to head in from close range.
Scotland threw on strikers Kris Boyd and Craig Beattie but could not trouble the home defence.
Elsewhere in Group B, Ukraine beat Lithuania 1-0, while Georgia were 3-1 winners over the Faroe Islands.
Italy: Buffon, Oddo, Cannavaro, Materazzi, Zambrotta, Gattuso, De Rossi, Camoranesi, Perrotta (Pirlo 77), Di Natale (Del Piero 66), Toni (Quagliarella 87).
Subs Not Used: Abbiati, Barzagli, Ambrosini, Tonetto.
Goals: Toni 12, 70.
Scotland: Gordon, Graham Alexander, Naysmith, Weir, McManus, Ferguson, Teale (Maloney 66), Hartley, Brown (Beattie 86), McCulloch (Boyd 81), Miller.
Subs Not Used: McGregor, McNamara, Pressley, Dailly.
Ref: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium).