Rodrigo Palacio scored a brace to send Inter through to the Coppa Italia Fourth Round, beating 10-man Cittadella 4-0.
The Nerazzurri were forced to start the campaign so early because they finished ninth in Serie A last season and welcomed Serie B side Cittadella to San Siro in front of 17,300 people. They will face newly-promoted Serie B team Trapani in the next round.
Jonathan opened the scoring with a move that he started and finished, winning back the ball before getting his head to a Fredy Guarin cross from the right.
Samir Handanovic was also forced into a great save on Di Roberto’s screamer, while Cittadella goalkeeper Di Gennaro – who is on loan from Inter’s youth academy – parried from a Ricky Alvarez header.
Palacio was clear on goal at the half-hour mark and brought down by Pecorini for both a penalty – which La Trenza himself converted – and a red card.
It should’ve been 3-0 moments later, but Palacio incredibly fired wide when sent through by 33rd birthday boy Esteban Cambiasso and Guarin also wasted with a half-volley over the bar.
Despite being down to 10 men, Cittadella continued to threaten and Handanovic flew to fingertip a long-range Dumitru effort out from under the bar.
Guarin misplaced his assist for an unmarked Mauro Icardi and Di Gennaro performed a fantastic save to deny Jonathan’s brace.
Palacio added a third goal with a well-worked move, running on to a Guarin through ball to surprise defenders.
Andrea Ranocchia made it 4-0 against 10-man Cittadella by meeting a corner, though Dumitru probably should’ve cut out the cross.
Handanovic was again called to keep out the lively Di Roberto and Pellizzer’s header whistled wide. Bad news for Walter Mazzarri, as Icardi limped off with an ankle problem five minutes from time, so both sides ended with 10 men.
Inter 4-0 Cittadella
Scorers: Jonathan 18 (I), Palacio pen 31, 59 (I), Ranocchia 63 (I)
Inter: Handanovic; Campagnaro (Pereira 64), Ranocchia, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Guarin (Kovacic 60), Cambiasso, Alvarez, Nagatomo; Palacio (Belfodil 60), Icardi
Cittadella: Di Gennaro; Pecorini, Coly, Pellizzer, Marino; Di Roberto (Busellato 79), Paolucci, La Camera, Lora (Perez 54); Dumitru, Minesso (Sosa 34)
Sent off: Pecorini 30 (C)
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!