AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) - Italy beat Japan in the gold medal match in the men's team foil Sunday for its third fencing title at the London Olympics.
The Italian top seeds and favorites held out to win 45-39 under constant pressure from the persistent seventh-seeded Japanese at ExCel Centre. It was the last of the 10 fencing competitions in London.
Italy added men's team foil gold to its titles in the women's individual and team foil after coming back from an early 9-7 deficit against Japan.
Germany took bronze with a 45-27 win over the United States, denying the Americans their second fencing bronze of the games.
Italy finished top of the fencing medal table with three golds and seven medals overall. South Korea won two golds and six medals ahead of China's two golds and three medals overall.
The silver was Japan's first fencing medal in London.
Having come through a sudden-death bout to beat third-seeded Germany in the semis, Japan also made the final highly uncomfortable for the favored Italian trio of Andrea Baldini, Andrea Cassara and Giorgio Avola.
Japan started better, with Ryo Miyake and Yuki Ota putting the underdog ahead through the first two of nine bouts.
Cassara made the ultimately telling contribution when he outscored Kenta Chida eight touches to four in the third bout for a 15-13 turnaround lead for Italy. The Italians were ahead following each bout after that, but were never able to relax.
Ota brought it within one point at 30-29 after the sixth duel, and substitute Suguru Awaji leveled the scores at one point against Cassara during the penultimate duel.
But the desperate Italians clung on for a third gold in London and celebrated with joy and relief after Baldini's winning touch on Ota.
The Italian ripped off his face mask and sank to his knees with fists pumping.
Germany's bronze earlier was some small consolation after it lost another close contest to the Japanese in the last four.
Peter Joppich sealed victory over the Americans in the ninth bout against Alexander Massialas for third place _ despite the Germans losing Sebastian Bachmann to injury during the match.
The U.S. finished fourth in the men's team foil and came away from London with a solitary medal in fencing _ a bronze in the women's team epee.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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