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Internazionale were made to battle for a place in the semi finals of the Coppa Italia; they faced Napoli in the cauldron that is the San Paulo. Both teams fielded their strongest available line ups, with Inter deciding to pair new signing Ranocchia with Cordoba at the heart of their defence. But despite fielding such a strong team, Napoli were the better team.

Controversy wasn’t far away from the game and in the 12th minute, Napoli thought they had taken the lead. Maicon was dispossessed in midfield, Napoli countered, Lavezzi slotting the ball through to Andrea Dossena who set up the mercurial Edison Cavani to force the ball in at the back post. However, the goal was ruled out for offside, causing uproar from the Napoli bench. Replays showed the linesman had made the correct decision.

The match continued to be a feisty affair, with both teams creating chances at each end. Stankovic had a trademark volley fire wide just beyond the post. Whilst an error from Chivu allowed Marek Hamsik to shoot, drawing a good save from Castellazzi.

Perhaps Inter’s best chance came when Maicon crossed for Esteban Cambiasso who smashed a volley towards goal but incredibly the Napoli keeper, De Sanctis, tipped the shot onto the crossbar.

Dejan Stankovic was forced off with a potential thigh strain in the second half. Napoli felt they were entitled to a penalty as Cordoba bundled Christian Maggio over, but the referee signalled for play to resume.  Napoli had every right to feel aggrieved, as Cordoba should have seen red and the Cup holders escaped.

On 83 minutes the Inter defence looked a shambles and Hamsik had a shot blocked and Ranocchia had to make a goal line clearance from Hamsik’s second effort.

It was incredible that this game had not witnessed any goals, especially given Inter’s chaotic defending. Yet the tie went into extra-time.

The home side had more reason to complain about the match officials when Lucio handled the ball with his arm inside the box, yet the referee still wouldn’t give a penalty. Following this, Napoli appealed for another penalty when Thiago Motta and Cavani struggled in the box, with the Uruguayan falling after his shirt was tugged; again no penalty.

Inter were forced to endure immense pressure for the rest of the game. Napoli’s Colombian wing-back, Juan Zuniga, looked to have secured a winning goal after a volley at the back post, yet Inter’s captain, Zanetti, cleared.

There was one last chance for Internazionale to clinch victory, but a Ranocchia header was saved after a free kick.

Finally, this intense match went to penalties. Napoli went first, and Cavani scored. Eto’o, Hamsik, and Cambiasso were all successful with their respective efforts.

The pressure was on Lavezzi to keep Napoli’s chances alive, but he caved under the pressure and fired over the bar. Pandev calmly slotted past De Sanctis. It appeared that Castellazzi had won the match when he saved Zuniga’s effort, only for the ball to roll under him.

Thiago Motta stepped up for the Nerazurri and clinched a 100% record for Inter. Next for Napoli was Yebda, who cheekily chipped the ball down the middle, but Castellazzi wouldn’t be fooled and Napoli were almost finished.

Christian Chivu secured the win for Internazionale by converting successfully and his team advance to the next round.

Napoli’s manager, Walter Mazzarri, remained bitter after defeat; “Napoli deserved it on points, but this is football.” He also questioned the refereeing, “at times there are situations that come to be interpreted in a different manner when it’s Napoli.”

Leonardo praised his side’s commitment and stated, “I am very happy with this performance.” “Napoli tried to win with their champions, but we knew how to suffer.” When quizzed about Inter’s alleged interest in signing Samdoria’s Giampaolo Pazzini, the coach retorted, “There are still a few days until the market closes. We’ll see. If we can add something then fine.”

The Champions have this morning been strongly linked with a €12million bid for the Italian striker. If it happens it would see the club able to choose from, Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, Pazzini and Goran Pandev; most of Europe would fear that firepower.

So Inter were lucky to escape with a win and Napoli will feel aggrieved at the manner of defeat. Focus will now turn to Serie A once again, with both teams chasing the Scudetto. This match has only added to an intriguing season on the Peninsula.

Ryan Ross

I became enthralled with Calcio back in the 90’s, when James Richardson presented Football Italia. My early mornings were spent following the trials and tribulations of Internazionale, during a period where they always flattered to deceive. It took a Frenchman to get me hooked though; Youri Djorkaeff, my favourite player of all time. This guy was key to Inter’s midfield, never mind his role in France’s World Cup win in 1998! I have a keen interest in Calcio’s rich history.

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    Pandev is not a player to be in inters shirt. I hate him because he is useless as a player,always falling and waste a lot of chances. Inter should invest more on Bibiany and let this clown fly.

    • Ryan Ross

      I think that is a bit unfair on Pandev. He played a key role in Inter’s success last season and given he was signed on a free, it was a bargain.

      It looks like Biabiany may be off to Samp as part of the Pazzo deal.

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