Leonardo’s team returned to winning ways as they got the better of the Roman club at the Olimpico, and now have one foot in the final of the Coppa Italia
A sensational Dejan Stankovic strike on the stroke of half-time helped Inter to a 1-0 victory over Roma in the first-leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final tie on Tuesday evening.
The Serbia international midfielder found the target from 25 yards at the Olimpico in Rome to ease pressure on coach Leonardo and enhanced his team’s chances of winning the competition for the second season in a row.
Stankovic had the ball inside the Roma net as early as the second minute as he took advantage of a defensive miscommunication between Juan and Doni. However, it was ruled out as the Serbian had committed a foul on the defender.
But minutes later, Mirko Vucinic came close to giving the home side the lead. Marco Borriello ran down the left and squared the ball for the Montenegrin, who failed to find the target from just a few yards.
Vucinic had another chance on 14 minutes but he blazed the ball over from 25 yards. There were few concrete chances for either side thereafter but Inter took the lead on 45 minutes much to the chagrin of Vincenzo Montella’s side.
Stankovic collected Esteban Cambiasso’s chipped pass and then hit a shot high across a diving Doni between the Roma posts. It seared into the net and the Italian champions went into the break 1-0 up.
Inter commenced the second-half the better of the two teams with midfielder Wesley Sneijder rounding Doni before crossing the ball, only to see his effort cleared away.
However, Roma started to increase the pressure shortly after and earned a number of free-kicks but failed to create anything significant.
Rodrigo Taddei then cut in two crosses from the right after the hour-mark but on both occasions, the ball was eventually cleared. Inter appeared to be looking to soak up the pressure and were playing only on counter-attacks.
Leonardo’s side had a penalty appeal turned down on 73 minutes when the ball appeared to have hit the hand of Daniele De Rossi inside the Roma box.
Minutes later Sneijder’s snap-shot was held at the near post by Doni and then the Netherlands international’s left-footed volley was blocked by Nicolas Burdisso.
Inter striker Giampaolo Pazzini went close to adding to his team’s tally on 90 minutes but Doni made a save with his legs.
That was the final genuine chance of the match, which saw the Milanese side garner a 1-0 first leg victory and take a huge step towards reaching the final of the Coppa Italia.