Sat, Feb 03, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Inter to meet Roma in Cup final

MORE OF THE SAME Roberto Mancini's side will play Roma in the Italian Cup final for the third consecutive year after seeing off the challenge of Sampdoria on Thursday

AP , MILAN, ITALY

Angelo Colombo, right, of Sampdoria and Inter Milan's Luis Figo fight for the ball during their Italian Cup semi-final second leg match in Milan on Thursday.

PHOTO: EPA

Inter Milan reached the Italian Cup final on Thursday despite being held to a 0-0 draw by Sampdoria in the second leg of the semi-finals.

Inter won the first leg 3-0 and will meet AS Roma in the finals for the third straight year.

Roma beat AC Milan 3-1 in their second leg semi on Wednesday to progress 5-3 on aggregate.

The two legs of the final are scheduled for April 18 and May 9.

"It was important for us to get into the final and we're pleased we managed to do so," Inter manager Roberto Mancini said. "We tried to win the game but Sampdoria did well and we missed a few goals."

Inter used a mixed side, including 18-year-old midfielder Ibrahim Maaroufi making his first-team debut beside regulars Luis Figo and Olivier Dacourt. Nineteen-year-old Leonardo Bonucci played his second game for the club on the right flank.

Francesco Bolzoni, another 18-year-old, replaced Bonucci in the 67th to make his debut.

"Today's match was useful because those players back from injury gave good responses. We have Dacourt back at 100 percent, Cruz is doing very well, and Grosso is improving," Mancini said. "It also gave us the chance to rest other players."

Sampdoria also rested strikers Francesco Flachi and Fabio Quagliarella, who was among the substitutes.

Mariano Gonzalez had Inter's first effort in the 11th minute with a looping shot that sailed just wide.

Julio Ricardo Cruz, playing as a lone striker for the Nerazzurri, went close in the 29th off Santiago Solari's square pass but directed his volley over the crossbar from close range. Cruz also had a fierce shot saved by Sampdoria goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi five minutes later.

Maaroufi whipped in a dangerous cross in the 41st that none of his teammates were able to meet.

Grosso set up Cruz in the 48th, but the Argentine striker had a bad first touch and the ball rolled to Castellazzi.

Sampdoria were industrious but never really troubled Inter goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, serving as captain for the night.

Luigi Sala had a rare chance for Sampdoria in the 68th off Fabio Bazzani's cross but the defender missed a header at the back post.

Alvaro Recoba replaced Figo as playmaker in the 71st and set up Cruz with a delightful chip over Sampdoria's defense 10 minutes later, but Cruz squandered the opportunity, shooting wide.

Sampdoria's best chance came in extra time through Quagliarella, who was a late substitute, but Toldo denied the forward from point blank range.

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