Coppa Italia: Internazionale Takes First Step To Treble

A first half goal from Diego Milito gives Internazionale their first of three potential trophies, taking their eighth Coppa Italia with a 1-0 win over Roma.

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Milito Goal Gives Internazionale 1-0 Coppa Italia Win Over Roma

Diego Milito had just had a goal called back, the Internazionale striker offside before beating Julio Sergio near the twenty minute mark.

Twenty minutes later, Milito made amends with a clinical twenty yard shot through traffic, beating Sergio to his far post to give Inter a halftime lead.  That was the only goal the Nerazzurri would need to claim their first Coppa Italia since 2005-06 - what Inter supporters hope to be the first of three trophies the club could win over the next seventeen days.

Inter is in the May 22 Champions League final in Madrid and holds a two point lead on Roma atop the Serie A.  With two matches left against bottom-half teams, Inter is unlikely to cede the scudetto to Roma, making today Roma's best chance to win silverware this season.

Coming off a 2-1 win over Inter at the Stadio Olimpico in March, Roma had reason to be confident.  After this weekend's 2-0 win by Inter over Roma arch rival Lazio, the Giallorossi also had reason to be motivated, the cheering of Lazio's fans for Internazionale undermining the weekend match.

Roma played intently from the start, exhibiting their typically strong passing and movement in creating good first half chances for Luca Toni and Simone Perotta.  Against a patchwork Inter defense without the services of an injured Lucio, Roma may have expected more, particularly given José Mourinho rested Walter Samuel and moved Javier Zanetti out of defense, making room for Christian Chivu.  

At half time, Claudio Ranieri brought on Francesco Totti for Davide Pizarro, a move that helped generate chances for Juan, Jeremey Ménez and John Arne Riise.  Ultimately, Inter's defense was able to protect their relatively early lead, and in an act of petulance near the end of the match, Totti was sent off after accumulating a second yellow hard in fouling Mario Balotelli.

A near altercation between the teams after the match forced security onto the pitch and further underscored the Roma's frustration - having lost the Serie A lead to Inter (after their loss to Sampdoria, two weeks ago) and witnessing the spectacle of this weekend's Lazio-Inter match.  Despite going over six months without a loss in the middle of the season, Roma is on the verge of ending 2009-10 without silverware.

Conversely, Internazionale wins their sixth Coppa Italia ahead of this weekend's match with Chievu at the San Siro.  With a win there combined with a Roma stumble against Calgiari  could give Inter their second trophy, their fifth straight scudetto, by Sunday night.  If Roma and Inter win, the Nerazzurri can clinch the league with a point versus Siena in ten days.

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