Despite Inter scoring another goal late in the first half -- Rodrigo Palacio is really good at getting those goals against Roma -- the first 45 minutes belonged to the home side. In the seventh minute, Ivan Piris sent in a great cross from the right side, but Mattia Destro sent his volley high. Three minutes later, Samir Handanovic made his first save, off an easy header from Destro.
But it wasn't easy for the Slovenian in the 13th minute. Piris provided another magnificent cross, and it was Alessandro Florenzi that got on the end of it this time. Handanovic was rooted in place as the header flew past, and Roma had their first goal.
On the other end, the giallorossi were saved from an equalizer by the post, struck by Fredy Guarin in the 17th minute. Just a minute later, Andrea Ranocchia was forced to clear off the line. Handanovic left the posts to challenge Francesco Totti, Erik Lamela got on the end of the loose ball, but the Inter defender managed to rescue his side from a second goal.
In the 27th minute, Roma were again fortunate to avoid an equalizer, as the excellent Marquinhos slid in to stop the nerazzurri attack. Roma immediately raced down to the other end, but Lamela sent his shot over the crossbar. The pressure on the home side was relieved in the 34th minute, however, when another header flew past Handanovic. This time it was from Destro, getting his head on the end of another brilliant cross from Piris.
Three minutes later, Roma almost had a third. Handanovic, who wasn't having his best day in an Inter shirt, misjudged a shot from Destro. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, Destro's ball flew into the crossbar.
But just as in the league match on Sunday, Inter were able to pull one back late in the first half. Esteban Cambiasso sent in a stunning free kick from distance. As Maarten Stekelenburg came out to deal with the danger, Palacio slipped round the keeper to side foot the ball into the back of the net.
After the break, the nerazzurri looked determined to find a second away goal. Guarin, indisputably the most lively member of the Inter attack, was brought down by the indispensable Marquinhos with a perfect challenge. Minutes later, he sent the ball across the face of goal, but Alvaro Pereira couldn't get there.
As much as Romanisti might not want to admit it, captain Totti just wasn't having the best of nights. Totti should have capitalized on a mistake by Pereira, who sent the ball straight to him, but Totti sent his shot well over the bar. Two minutes later, a challenge by Cristian Chivu on Michael Bradley set Totti up for a great chance on a free kick. Instead, he sent his shot low and straight into the wall.
In the 68th minute, Palacio had two chances in two seconds to find the equalizer, but the Rat Tail magic just couldn't kick in. Despite a poor clearance from Piris, who put the ball straight back to the Inter forward, Palacio couldn't get in a good shot, and Stekelenburg was able to save easily.
With 15 minutes left to go, Andrea Stramaccioni brought in Ricky Alvarez, who'd been relegated to the bench thanks to recent injury. Even though his first touch was a handball, the Uruguayan managed to make an impact almost immediately. In the 77th minute, he dispossessed Federico Balzaretti, but his resultant shot went just wide. Four minutes later, another Alvarez shot was blocked by Simone Perrotta, brought in for Florenzi to shore up the Roma defense.
AS Roma: Maarten Stekelenburg; Iván Piris, Marquinhos (Leandro Castan '60), Nicolás Burdisso, Federico Balzaretti; Michael Bradley, Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Alessandro Florenzi (Simone Perrotta '78), Erik Lamela, Mattia Destro, Francesco Totti (Marquinho '86)
Inter Milan: Samir Handanovic, Andrea Ranocchia, Cristian Chivu, Juan Jesus; Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, Joel Obi (Yuto Nagatomo '45), Marco Benassi (Walter Gargano '65), Álvaro Pereira (Ricky Alvarez '75); Fredy Guarín; Rodrigo Palacio
Goals: Florenzi 13 (R), Destro 34 (R), Palacio 44 (I)
Disciplinary action: Guarin and Pereira will miss the second leg of the semi-final, courtesy of yellow card accumulation.