Roma had dominated the first half with Alessandro Florenzi and Mattia Destro on target, but Rodrigo Palacio gave Inter a precious away goal in the Coppa Italia semi-final.
These teams already played at the Olimpico on Sunday evening in a 1-1 Serie A draw, but met again for the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final. Daniele De Rossi was out along with suspended Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, Miralem Pjanic, Rodrigo Taddei and Dodo, so Mattia Destro joined the trident. Inter were still missing Antonio Cassano, Diego Milito, Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Stankovic, Luca Castellazzi and Walter Samuel, so Fredy Guarin was moved up into a more advanced role behind Rodrigo Palacio.
The second leg was meant to be next week, but has been moved to April 17.
In the opening minutes Esteban Cambiasso’s heavy touch ruined a counter-attack, while Destro volleyed over from 10 yards and didn’t get enough power to a glancing header that Samir Handanovic caught.
It was Alessandro Florenzi who put Roma in front with a splendid looping header into the far top corner from an Ivan Piris cross. It was a fitting goalscorer, as he had netted his first ever Serie A goal against Inter earlier this season.
Guarin threatened an equaliser moments later, but his strike thumped the outside of the upright.
Roma really should’ve scored a second on 17 minutes, but Francesco Totti tried to waltz round Handanovic rather than shoot, then by the time he had pulled back for Erik Lamela, his effort was cleared off the line by Andrea Ranocchia.
Michael Bradley’s smart pass sent Lamela clear down the right, but he opted to shoot over the bar rather than cross for Destro in a better position.
A Ranocchia howler seemed to let Destro through, but the ex-Siena striker was unable to make the most of that gift.
Destro made up for it later, as he aimed a powerful header on to the Piris cross, getting between two defenders to nod in from six yards at the near post.
Roma nearly made it 3-0 with a bizarre incident, as a Destro low cross seemed to take Handanovic by surprise and he palmed it on to the inside of the upright. Replays show it did not cross the line.
Federico Balzaretti made a mistake to release Guarin, but Maarten Stekelenburg did well to parry with his legs in a one-on-one.
Inter got one back against the run of play before the break. Cambiasso curled a free kick to the edge of the six-yard box where Palacio was totally unmarked to tap in. Nicolas Burdisso had been caught napping, allowing him to spring the offside trap.
Guarin had a couple of dangerous efforts, as Inter were far more confident in the second half. A Totti half-volley swerved over the bar after Alvaro Pereira’s bizarre overhead kick clearance.
Palacio somehow failed to score when a series of defensive errors and poor clearances gave him two shots from six yards, but both were charged down.
Totti’s long free kick didn’t get a touch off anyone, so went through to shave a coat of paint off the far post. Destro completely missed a volley from seven yards, while Ricky Alvarez made his comeback from injury and almost scored within two minutes, a curler skimming the far top corner.
Alvarez again went on a mazy run only for his shot to be charged down by Simone Perrotta, having dummied two players.
Cristian Chivu was booked for tripping Destro on a rapid counter-attack, then Yuto Nagatomo did well to charge down Lamela’s attempt after the Argentine hesitated. Handanovic smothered a deflected Marquinho effort, but there were no more goals and the tie will go right down to the wire.
Roma 2-1 Inter
Scorers: Florenzi 13 (R), Destro 33 (R), Palacio 43 (I)
Roma: Stekelenburg; Piris, Marquinhos (Castan 60), Burdisso, Balzaretti; Bradley, Tachtsidis, Florenzi (Perrotta 77); Lamela, Destro, Totti (Marquinho 85)
Inter: Handanovic; Ranocchia, Chivu, Juan Jesus; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Obi (Nagatomo 46), Benassi (Gargano 64), Pereira (Alvarez 74); Guarin; Palacio
Ref: De Marco
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