Ten-man Inter's virtual second-string side battled to a 2-0 victory at Lazio in Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday to qualify for the Italian Cup final.
Following last month’s goalless semi-final, first-leg at the San Siro this was a surprisingly tight affair until young Portuguese midfielder Vitor Pele’s goal separated the teams.
The champions and league leaders faced an anxious last few minutes after substitute Marco Materazzi was sent off for kicking out at Goran Pandez just a quarter of an hour after coming on. But moments later Pele turned provider for Argentina forward Julio Cruz to seal the victory five minutes from time.
Pele’s cross into the box caused confusion between Lazio goalkeeper Marco Ballotta and center-back Siviglia, leaving the ball at Cruz’s feet for an easy tap in.
Inter captain Javier Zanetti, who was one of the few regular starters, along with Cruz, to be included in the first 11 said he now hoped this result could inspire the club to the title on Sunday against Siena.
“This season has been very important for Inter and now we’re in the final,” Zanetti said.
“This evening we played well and we hope to play like this and win the league on Sunday,” he said.
Lazio coach Delio Rossi praised his young team despite the defeat, but admitted his club had had a poor season.
“We saw on the pitch what happened and this was a good example of our season,” he said. “We need to improve the team, Lazio haven’t had a good season, we need to start again next year but we’ve blooded a lot of youngsters so it’s not been a total loss.”