David Ospina’s howler allowed Christian Eriksen to score directly from a corner, but he proved crucial as Napoli beat Inter 2-1 on aggregate with a record-breaking Dries Mertens goal, so will face Juventus in the Coppa Italia Final.
The Partenopei will go through to face Juventus in the Coppa Italia Final in Rome on Wednesday June 17.
Napoli won the first leg 1-0 at San Siro on February 12 with a deflected Fabian Ruiz strike, but the Spaniard was only fit for the bench here along with Allan, while Kostas Manolas and Stanislav Lobotka were injured. Christian Eriksen was given a new trequartista role for Inter, though Matias Vecino, Diego Godin and Danilo D’Ambrosio were on the treatment table.
It was the perfect start for Inter, as within three minutes Eriksen’s corner glanced the head of Giovanni Di Lorenzo and David Ospina completely mis-read the bounce, allowing it to squirm through his legs at the near post. They were immediately all-square on aggregate and in terms of away goals.
Antonio Candreva and Marcelo Brozovic weren’t too far off target, while Samir Handanovic got away with a scare on Alessandro Bastoni’s weak back-pass and gathered a deflected Mertens effort.
Ospina did considerably better on 31 minutes with his one-handed save at full stretch on Lukaku’s header from an Ashley Young cross.
However, Young was very lucky not to get sent off moments later, as he was already on a yellow card when clattering Politano again in midfield with a very clumsy challenge.
Inter continued to attack, with Candreva selfishly going for goal himself when there were three other teammates in the box, forcing another fine save out of Ospina.
On the resulting corner, the goalkeeper proved decisive again with a magnificent long ball to find Lorenzo Insigne, who drew two defenders away and placed a no-look pass for totally unmarked Mertens to sweep into the empty net. It was a record-breaking strike, as Mertens surpasses Marek Hamsik to become Napoli’s all-time top scorer with 122 goals.
After the restart, Insigne’s angled drive skimmed the far post, but substitute Alexis Sanchez went even closer within seconds of coming off the bench. Eriksen hit a rocket of a free kick to sting Ospina’s gloves, but Inter came so close to winning it on 82 minutes when Ospina got down well to parry Eriksen’s daisy-cutter from nine yards, set up by an Alexis Sanchez back-heel flick, only for Victor Moses to blast the rebound over.
Ospina put in an eventful performance, but was booked for time-wasting late on and will be suspended for the Final against Juventus on June 17.
Napoli 1-1 Inter (2-1 agg)
Eriksen 3 (I), Mertens 41 (N)
Napoli: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Elmas (Fabian Ruiz 65), Demme, Zielinski (Allan 85); Politano (Callejon 65), Mertens (Milik 74), Insigne (Younes 85)
Inter: Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij (Ranocchia 88), Bastoni; Candreva (Biraghi 71), Brozovic, Barella, Young (Moses 71); Eriksen (Sensi 88); R Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (Alexis Sanchez 71)
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