Inter won an incredible Coppa Italia quarter-final 3-2 in the last seconds of extra time, after Bologna had fought back from 2-0 down.
Tommasi Rocchi got his first start in an Inter jersey and partnered Antonio Cassano, while 18-year-old Marco Benassi was picked again after making his Serie A debut at the weekend. Andrea Ranocchia and Juan Jesus returned from suspension in the League. Bologna knocked holders Napoli out of the Coppa Italia in the last round and were fresh from a 4-0 victory over Chievo.
Both teams walked in with shirts depicting Arpad Weisz, the Hungarian Coach who won the Scudetto at Inter and Bologna before he was killed at Auschwitz in 1944.
Cassano dribbled past Mikael Antonsson, but lost momentum when clear on goal and eventually hit a weak effort.
Matias Silvestre nodded a Cassano free kick past the back post, while Alessandro Diamanti’s sudden snapshot whistled wide.
Cristian Pasquato found space on a Diamanti through ball and Samir Handanovic had to smother his angled drive. Bologna were gaining more possession as the half wore on, but a delightful Cassano curler was fingertipped inches past the far top corner by Federico Agliardi.
Fredy Guarin broke the deadlock with an absolute screamer. He skipped past a defender in the D and unleashed an unstoppable rocket into the top corner, giving Agliardi no chance.
Ranocchia charged down a powerful Diamanti free kick with his chest and was badly winded, requiring treatment.
Moments later, Handanovic needed a stunning reaction save to palm Alberto Gilardino’s header on to the base of the upright, picking it up practically off the line. Marco Motta had floated in the cross from the right.
Handanovic also got down to beat away a Diamanti left-foot snapshot that bounced right in front of him.
Diamanti drilled inches wide from distance, then Michele Pazienza volleyed a corner over the bar. Agliardi rushed off his line to charge down Alvaro Pereira’s finish with his legs, while Cassano drilled just wide after a defensive error.
Gilardino came diving in at the back post, but was offside to spare his blushes after nodding wide from six yards.
Rodrigo Palacio made it 2-0 with a spectacular strike. He ran forward from midfield after Guarin may or may not have kept the ball in play at the touchline, then curled a stunning effort into the far top corner to stun Agliardi. Bologna were furious, as they felt the ball had gone out in the build-up.
Bologna did get back into it soon after, as Diamanti curled a magnificent free kick into the near top corner, in off the crossbar with Handanovic rooted to the spot.
The Rossoblu nearly completed their comeback with a helping hand from Ranocchia, whose header to anticipate Gilardino was about to score an own goal. It floated on to the far post and bounced back into the grateful arms of Handanovic.
They were piling on the pressure and managed to wipe out a 2-0 gap in four minutes. A Marco Motta cross was floated to the back post for Manolo Gabbiadini’s delicate volley with the inside of his left foot from six yards. Jonathan should’ve intercepted, but slipped.
Ranocchia thought he had scored at the other end, but was flagged offside as he bundled the ball over the line.
Panagiotis Kone should’ve done so much better when hitting a wayward cross for the unmarked Gilardino, as it was wide open at San Siro. Kone went for goal himself with a volley just wide, while Ranocchia’s overhead kick was off target.
Gabbiadini so nearly made it 3-2 for Bologna, but his fantastic curler from distance was matched by a Handanovic fingertip save.
From that corner, Inter went on the counter-attack and Palacio’s deflected cross had to be palmed out from under the bar by Agliardi.
Deep into stoppages Pazienza fired just wide from another Bologna corner, but these teams pushed the quarter-final to extra time.
In the first half of extra time, Esteban Cambiasso had a shot deflected wide, a dangerous cross for Gabbiadini was crucially intercepted and Cassano required treatment for a thigh problem.
Everyone on the field looked exhausted except for 39-year-old Javier Zanetti, who was doing warm-up exercises during the break while his teammates and opponents gulped down water. The captain dribbled between three different Bologna players until his shot was palmed away, then the rebound hit the upright!
A Diamanti cross went past everyone to reach Gabbiadini at the back post, but Handanovic just about managed to stop the cushioned header before it could cross the line. Gabbiadini’s counter-attack was fingertipped past the base of the near post.
Just as penalties seemed inevitable, Inter scored in the final minute of extra time. A Guarin corner was floated into the middle, Agliardi seemed to be caught in no man’s land and Ranocchia placed the looping header into an empty net.
Inter 3-2 Bologna (aet)
Scorers: Guarin 34 (I), Palacio 78 (I), Diamanti 80 (B), Gabbiadini 84 (B), Ranocchia 120 (I)
Inter: Handanovic; Ranocchia, Silvestre, Juan Jesus; Jonathan (Mudingayi 87), Zanetti, Benassi (Cambiasso 46), Pereira; Guarin; Rocchi (Palacio 60), Cassano
Bologna: Agliardi; Sorensen, Portanova, Antonsson (Kone 69); Motta, Perez, Guarente (Pazienza 46), Morleo; Diamanti, Pasquato (Gabbiadini 55); Gilardino
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk