(CNN) -- Italy stunned France 22-21 in rugby union's Six Nations championship in Rome Saturday as Mirco Bergamasco scored 17 points, including a crucial penalty five minutes from time.
Bergamasco's score put the Italians ahead and they clung on for an historic first win over the French in the annual competition.
It was the second straight defeat for the visitors, whose hopes of defending the championship are now in tatters.
Bergamasco kicked five penalties and converted a try from the man-of-the-match Andrea Masi to delight Italy's South African coach Nick Mallett.
"This win against a good French team is a huge huge achievement, I am so proud of the players and proud of what they've done for the Italian supporters.
"Sport is a funny thing, you lose a few in a row and then things change very quickly -- the fans realize we were improving all the time," he told AFP.
But France coach Marc Lievremont was left to reflect on another sorry defeat after claiming the grand slam last season.
"We have to congratulate the Italians because from the first minute to the last minute they were better than us.
"This is yet another disappointment and yet another huge disillusionment."
France will reflect on a match in which they led for most of the 80 minutes with a first half try from Vincent Clerc putting them 8-6 ahead at the break.
A penalty from Morgan Parra, who then crossed for a converted try, put the French 18-6 to the good and seemingly headed for a comfortable win.
But the Italians rallied and Fabio Semenzato sent the ball out to Masi to sneak over in the corner.
Bergamasco kicked the conversion from the touchline and then landed a penalty as the gap was cut to 18-16.
Parra kicked a penalty but then two more from Bergamasco gave Italy an unlikely one-point lead which they clung on to despite fierce French pressure.
Later Saturday, Wales beat Ireland 19-13 at the Millennium Stadium to keep alive their championship hopes.
A controversial Mike Phillips try in the second half proved decisive and ended the Triple Crown hopes of Ireland.
James Hook kicked 11 points with a long-range penalty from Leigh Halfpenny completing the home side's points tally.
Brian O'Driscoll scored a try for Ireland and Ronan O'Gara bagged two penalties and a conversion.
The visitors led 13-9 at the half but scrum half Phillips took a quick throw-in from captain Matthew Rees to race over to score in the corner.
Hook kicked the extras but the Irish protested that the try should not have stood because the same ball had not been used for the throw-in.
Referee Jonathan Kaplan consulted the linesman and as he was not allowed to use video evidence gave the try.
Grand slam hopefuls England play Scotland Sunday as they bid for a fourth win from four matches.