Inter Milan clinch Italian Cup final over Lazio
Inter Milan beat Lazio 2-0 Wednesday at Rome's Stadio Olimpico to qualify for the final of the Italian Cup after a scoreless draw in the home leg, the dpa reported.
The young Portuguese Pele froze the home crowd early in the second half drilling an impressive volley into the upper right corner to pave the way for the final.
Lazio looked at the Italian Cup as a way to bring lustre to a dismal season and started off at a hammering pace with Tommaso Rocchi, Goran Pandev and Rolando Bianchi manning a solid striking package.
The hosts' best result in the first half, however, was only a woodwork-shaking free kick from midfielder Cristian Ledesma.
The Argentinian curled his swerving shot in the second minute, leaving Francesco Toldo helpless on the goal line to watch the ball bounce off the post to his right.
Rocchi also came close on 15 minutes as his dangerous drive grazed Toldo's other post, while on one of Inter's few attacks, Romanian defender Cristian Chivu fumbled a cross from Luis Jimenez.
Twenty minutes later, Rocchi set up Pandev in the area but the Macedonian wasted time and fired wide shortly before trying an unsuccessful volley.
Inter's best chance in the first half went begging on 40 minutes as Jimenez missed the target after a great spurt in the area off an assist from the guests' lone striker David Suazo.
Lazio resumed pressing after the break, but were stunned on 52 minutes by Pele's drive off a great pass squared by Suazo from the right flank.
Pandev fired firmly from the distance on 67 minutes but found Toldo ready to block as Lazio gradually lost steam and were stunned again with five minutes left by Julio Cruz, who had come on for Suazo.
The towering Argentinian easily flicked home a ball that a dithering Marco Ballotta slapped against one of his defenders.
There was tension on the pitch with plenty of bookings and the dismissal of substitute Marco Materazzi for a foul from behind on Pandev.
"Having seen the game, I say that it was a copy of our season," Lazio coach," Delio Rossi said. "We play discretely, but we obtain little, while they got the most they could get from the game. There is a lot of bitterness."
Cup holders Roma visit Catania Thursday for the other semi-final holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg. The final takes place in Rome on May 24.