03.03.2016 00:12 - in: Match report S

      Juve edge past Inter to reach Coppa Italia final

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      The Bianconeri defeat Inter 5-3 on penalties at the San Siro to set up a Coppa Italia final with Milan after drawing the semi-final 3-3 on aggregate

      Leonardo Bonucci’s decisive spot kick enabled Juventus to book their place in the Coppa Italia final with a 5-3 win on penalties after the hosts had clawed their way back from 3-0 down in the first leg to draw 3-3 on aggregate.

      The Nerazzurri enjoyed the better of a physical opening period and got the early lead they needed in the 16th minute courtesy of Marcelo Brozovic’s low shot into the corner, marking the maiden goal conceded by Juventus in this year’s Coppa Italia.

      The hosts started the second half just as brightly as the first and reduced their aggregate deficit further in the 49th minute when Ivan Perisic turned in Eder’s cross and eventually drew level when Brozovic drove home a spot-kick awarded for Daniele Rugani’s foul on Perisic.

      The Bianconeri edged the ensuing half-hour of extra-time with Simone Zaza, Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata all going close to regaining the advantage in the tie, but Inter keeper Juan Pablo Carrizo produced heroics in defying the Spaniard at the death.

      In the subsequent shootout, Andrea Barzagli, Zaza, Morata, Pogba and captain for the night Bonucci all kept their cool from 11 metres out, with Rodrigo Palacio’s miss ultimately proving the difference in what was a case of history repeating itself after the Old Lady’s penalty triumph over Inter in the 2004 semi-finals.

      Having survived a considerable scare at the San Siro, Massimiliano Allegri’s men now have the opportunity to defend their Coppa Italia title when they come up against Milan in the final to be held at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on 21 May.

      Knowing they had to beat Juventus on the night by at least three goals, Roberto Mancini’s charges unsurprisingly came quickly out of the traps, pushing high up the field and fashioning the game’s first effort, dragged wide by Perisic after ten minutes.

      The visitors were being made to defend early on, but in all truth, they were unfortunate to concede the opener when referee Andrea Gervasoni adjudged Gary Medel’s burly dispossession of Hernanes to be within the letter of the law and the Chilean midfielder released Brozovic, who tucked home neatly past Neto.

      The goal galvanised the hosts, who could sense an opportunity to score again in quick succession, and they very nearly did just that when Adem Ljajic’s looping shot cannoned off the crossbar in the 25th minute.

      The Bianconeri rolled up their sleeves and fought their way back up the other end of the park with reasonable regularity, without however testing opposition keeper Carrizo.

      Then, as half-time approached, Inter stepped up their search for a second goal, Perisic heading over and Ljajic driving just whiskers wide of the mark.

      Their persistent pursuit paid off shortly after the interval when Eder galloped down the right and crossed perfectly for Perisic to slot into the bottom corner.

      Now more than ever, Juventus knew how valuable an away goal would be in swinging the momentum of the tie back in their favour and they so nearly re-extended their aggregate advantage when Zaza beat the offside trap and struck Carrizo’s near post on 55 minutes.

      Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri were no less menacing up front, with Ljajic dribbling past the visitors’ defence before firing marginally to the right of Neto’s upright.

      Danilo D’Ambrosio, too, came close to hitting an equaliser, the defender heading inches over the bar from Ljajic’s free-kick in the 72nd minute.

      Spurred on by the willing running of Eder and Perisic down the channels, the hosts eventually achieved parity on 82 minutes when Rugani brought down the latter inside the area and Brozovic squeezed his spot-kick under Neto.

      The Brazilian keeper would be called upon once more moments before the end of regulation time, diving low to his right to defy Perisic from close range.

      The Croatian forward continued to lead the Nerazzurri charge in extra-time, forcing another smart reaction save from Neto, his curling header seemingly destined for the top corner.

      The Bianconeri needed a source of inspiration from somewhere and Zaza almost provided it in the 101st minute when he stole the ball off D’Ambrosio and struck inches wide of the target. The frontman had Carrizo concerned once more just a few minutes later, when he fired into the side-netting from the left.

      Pogba too was making his presence felt since replacing Kwadwo Asamoah and the Frenchman might have matched his midfield brawn with what would have been the most precious of left-footed volleys, sending Juan Cuadrado’s corner just beyond the far post.

      Then, in the final minute, Alvaro Morata was left wondering how he hadn’t sealed a certain winner, when Carrizo flung himself first at the Spaniard’s fierce curler towards the top corner before denying him split seconds later at point blank range to take the game to penalties.

      In an incredibly tense shootout, Palacio would be the only player to fluff his lines, Barzagli, Brozovic, Zaza, Morata, Rey Manaj, Pogba, Yuto Nagatomo and Bonucci all converting from 11 metres out in an eventual 5-3 win for the visitors that books their place in the competition’s showpiece event this May.


      Neto, Lichtsteiner (Barzagli 55), Rugani, Bonucci, Alex Sandro, Cuadrado, Sturaro, Hernanes (Lemina 69), Asamoah (Pogba 86), Zaza, Morata

      Unused substitutes: Buffon, Rubinho, Padoin, Khedira, Pereyra, Dybala, Favilli

      Coach: Allegri



      Carrizo; Santon, D’Ambrosio, Juan Jesus, Nagatomo; Brozovic, Medel, Kondogbia (Biabiani 46); Perisic, Eder (Manaj 113), Ljajc (Palacio 74)

      Unused substitutes: Handanovic, Berni, Icardi, Telles, Gnoukouri, Della Giovanna, Felipe Melo, Gyamfi

      Coach: Mancini

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