Then midway through the second half Bafetimbi Gomis slotted home from close range to score what eventually proved to be the winner.
It was an exciting game of football, and here Sports Mole takes a closer look to see if the result was fair.
On target 4
On target 3
Was the result fair?
A draw would have been a fair result. France played in patches and took their chances during those good spells. Italy were overall the better side and were unlucky to see strikes from Mario Balotelli and Emmanuele Giaccherini come off the crossbar.
Coach Cesare Prandelli should be pleased with his side's performance despite their defeat. Italy controlled the game in large parts and were denied by the France crossbar twice. The midfield moved the ball around well and substitutes Alessandro Diamanti, Sebastian Giovinco and Giaccherini all were impressive.
Didier Deschamps's side struggled to maintain possession of the ball in the game, especially in the first 15 minutes when they were firmly on the backfoot. It was only after Jeremy Menez came on that France looked properly threatening.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Mathieu Valbuena: The Marseille winger was arguably the best and most consistent player on the pitch. The 28-year-old's equaliser for France was an individual piece of brilliance. Valbuena's passing was spot on and his runs along the flanks troubled the Italy defence.
Alberto Undiano had a good game and had everything under control. He rightly dished out a yellow card to Balotelli in the second half and was impressive overall.
Italy: Next up for Italy is another friendly international, this time against the Netherlands in Amsterdam in February next year.
France: France will host Germany in a friendly in February.