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Inter Edges Juve in Coppa Clasico

  • Reuters, Thursday, January 31, 2008 4:45 PM
Inter Milan battled through to the Coppa Italia semifinals with a 5-4 aggregate win after an enthralling 3-2 victory at Juventus Wednesday night. Trailing 2-1, the Nerazzurri had to rely on another dubious penalty decision to bring them back into the match before reserve forward Mario Balotelli slotted home a fantastic second to seal the series victory.

Inter has been criticized in the Italian press for resting big names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the Coppa Italia, although Balotelli served as a more than suitable replacement. It was the reserve forward who got Inter off to a quick start, converting a wonderful chest trap and volley in the 10th minute. Alessendro Del Piero's deflected free kick brought the match level four minutes later, before Vincenzo Iaquinta turned home a rebound from another set-piece to put Juve ahead in the 31st.

Six minutes before halftime, Hasan Salihamidzic was harshly penalized for blocking a shot with his hands that was clearly going high; Julio Cruz converted the penalty. Nine minutes into the second period, Balotelli, receiving the ball with his back to goal, turned quickly and fired home a brilliant winner from the top of the 18-yard line. Inter will now face Lazio in one semifinal, while Roma plays Catania Calcio in the other.

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