Serie A - Milito strike hands Inter Coppa Italia

Eurosport - Wed, 05 May 22:03:00 2010

A stunning Diego Milito strike gave Internazionale a 1-0 win over Roma in a bad tempered Coppa Italia final at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Inter Milan's Diego Milito (L) celebrates with Mario Balotelli after scoring against AS Roma during their Italian Cup final soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Rome - 0

Argentine Milito capitalised on slack passing in the Roma midfield to score a wonderful solo goal to seal Inter's first trophy of a potential treble.

As good as Milito's goal was, the match will be remembered as a bad tempered affair which barely resembled a football match in the last five minutes, and saw Francesco Totti red carded for a mindless kick at Mario Balotelli.

With Inter just two points ahead of Roma in the Serie A title race with two matches to go, the team from the Italian capital were not only looking to win the Coppa Italia, but to de-rail Inter's title bid in the process.

However, this was a match which Inter dominated throughout.

The Nerazzuri very nearly opened the scoring on 12 minutes through Samuel Eto'o who forced a sharp save from Julio Sergio after the Cameroonian had been expertly picked out by Estaban Cambiasso who had intercepted Mirko Vucinic.

Three minutes later Thiago Motta scooped the ball over the top to Milito who finished clinically, only to turn and to see that the assistant referee had raised his flag.

Jose Mourinho immediately ran to see the 4th official's monitor; had the official allowed Mourinho to see the replay, the Inter manager would have seen that his forward had strayed half a yard offside.

At the other end Julio Cesar swooped to knock the ball clear of Luca Toni who was on his own awaiting to apply an easy finish from a Rodrigo Taddei pull back.

Inter grabbed the lead they deserved on 40 minutes through the Argentine Milito. Roma were keeping the ball well in midfield but were let down by David Pizarro who played the ball straight into Milito's path.

The Inter forward still had a lot of work to do as he began to sprint at goal but found that any challenges which came his way were easy to hand off. He reached the edge of the box and unleashed a fierce drive which nestled into the back of the net.

Nicolas Burdiso was at the centre of what was a bad tempered first half. The full back - playing in place of the suspended Marco Cassetti - forced Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder off the pitch after just five minutes with a stud mark on the back of his thigh.

Burdiso soon left a mark on Sneijder's replacement, Balotelli. He picked up a yellow card for a late challenge from behind on the young Italian and was lucky to not be sent off for a similar challenge half an hour later, a decision which left Jose Mourinho livid.

From the resulting free kick, Marco Materazzi theatrically grabbed his stomach after some close Philippe Mexes marking which caused a pushing match in the penalty area and a yellow card for Roma's French defender.

Roma introduced talisman Francesco Totti at half time and the Roma captain almost forced an equaliser within ten minutes.

Walter Samuel body checked Toni 35 yards out - a distance which was not too far for Toni as he shot low and hard which Julio Cesar could only parry straight to defender Juan who incredibly headed over the bar from just six yards out.

As Roma pushed for the equaliser, Inter found room to counter attack into, and if it wasn't for some sharp saves from Sergio and good defending from Juan they would have found themselves in further trouble.

The keeper got down well to save from a Balotelli snap shot and he combined with his fellow Brazilian Juan to save from Eto'o at an acute angle.

Roma thought they should have had a penalty when Jeremy Menez and Cristian Chivu collided in the penalty area. Appeals which referee Rizzoli waved away in what proved to be an eventful last ten minutes for the official.

As Inter looked to keep as much possession as possible and Roma's frustration reaching fever pitch. Rodrigo Taddei twice recklessly fouled Thiago Motta before Francesco Totti recklessly kicked Balotelli when the young Italian was in possession.

Moments later, Balotelli was again hacked down and Mourinho made the smart decision to substitute his midfielder.

As the final whistle sounded it looked as though a fan had got on the pitch which caused yet more problems for referee Rizzoli to deal with.

The win gives Inter their first trophy of a potential treble. They will make it two with a win at the weekend against Chievo, before the Champions League final on May 22 against Bayern Munich in Madrid.

Dan Rumens / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account