Inter 2-1 Parma (aet): Acerbi header sends Nerazzurri through in Coppa Italia as holders survive scare

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Holders Inter are through to the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia but had to survive a scare before eventually beating Serie B side Parma 2-1 after extra time at San Siro.

Stanko Juric's ferocious effort towards the end of the first half looked like it was going to be enough for Fabio Pecchia's team, before Lautaro Martinez found the equaliser with Inter's first shot on target in the 88th minute.

The Nerazzurri were holding on at times in extra time as well, before Francesco Acerbi won it with a fine header.

Simone Inzaghi made seven changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Monza on Saturday, with Danilo D'Ambrosio, Robin Gosens and Denzel Dumfries among those coming in, while Gianluigi Buffon started in goal for Parma, but the 44-year-old had very little to do for the first 87 minutes of the tie.

After a quiet opening, it was the Serie B side who took a surprise lead in the 38th minute when Adrian Bernabe's ball forward was flicked by Simon Sohm into the path of Juric, who had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes after replacing the injured Dennis Man, and he fired a rocket of a shot into the top right corner past the hopeful dive of Andre Onana.

As Inter continued to struggle to break Parma down in the second half, Inzaghi turned to his substitutes, including Edin Dzeko as he went for it with an attacking trio of the Bosnian alongside Martinez and Joaquin Correa, and it eventually paid off.

With just over two minutes of normal time remaining, a deep ball in from Kristjan Asllani was only cleared as far as Martinez, whose shot deflected off Yordan Osorio and past Buffon to the relief of the home fans and to force extra time, though not before the former Juventus keeper made a smart stop to deny Dzeko a late winner.

The impressive visitors took the game to Inter in the extra 30 minutes, with Antoine Hainaut firing just wide after intercepting a loose pass from Roberto Gagliardini, but Inter stepped it up in the second period and won it thanks to Acerbi after Buffon punched a Federico Dimarco cross straight to the waiting centre-back, who headed it back over him and into the net.

What does it mean? Win all that matters for Inter

Inter are fourth in Serie A while Parma are sixth in Serie B, but the visitors had only one win from their previous six coming into this.

It was therefore quite surprising to see them come close to what would have been a deserved victory had Martinez not rescued his team.

While going through is all that matters, Inzaghi will be concerned with how slow and uninspired nature of his team, which despite the changes, still appeared far stronger on paper than most others in Italy.

Buffon rolls back the years

Granted, he had no save to make until Martinez's deflected shot whizzed past him, but Buffon's save from Dzeko shortly after kept his team in it and served as a reminder to anyone who needed one of his qualities.

The former Juventus and Italy stopper only made one other save all game, but it surely gave heart to anyone in their mid-40s that they too can still dream of performing to a high level in the Coppa Italia one day.

Blunt Inter close to crashing out

It was a particularly poor first half from Inter, who had just two shots despite having 73.5 per cent possession, failing to hit the target with either, while Parma had three of their own, all on target.

Not until Martinez equalised did the hosts had a shot on target, and despite winning, Inter still ended the game having had fewer attempts on target (four) than their second tier opponents (six).

What's next?

Inter host Hellas Verona in Serie A on Saturday while Parma are away to Bari in Serie B on the same day.