Inter survive fear to beat Empoli 3-2 in Coppa Italia |
MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan survived a scare by beating Empoli 3-2 after extra time on Wednesday to reach the Italian Cup quarterfinals.
It looked like Empoli were on the verge of a surprise in the round of 16 when they went ahead with Nedim Bajrami’s strike and an own goal from home goalkeeper Ionuț Radu after the opener. ‘Alexis Sánchez for Inter.
But Andrea Ranocchia equalized in stoppage time to send the game into extra time, where Stefano Sensi scored the winner. Inter will next face either Roma or Lecce – the only team outside of Serie A remaining in the competition.
Inter, which leads Serie A, had rotated its team to give rest to several players. But coach Simone Inzaghi was forced into an early change when Joaquín Correa limped off in tears with a suspected hamstring problem and was substituted for Sánchez in the fifth minute.
Sánchez had come off the bench to score a last-minute winner against Juventus in the Italian Super Cup last week. And he headed in a Denzel Dumfries cross in the 13th minute.
Inter had chances to double their lead but Empoli started to come into the game and scored a deserved equalizer when Kristjan Asllani clipped the ball from the touchline for Bajrami to control and fire into the bottom right corner.
And the turnaround was complete when a towering header from former AC Milan striker Patrick Cutrone bounced off the underside of the bar and the back of Radu’s leg.
Just when it looked like Empoli were close to delivering a shock result at the San Siro, Ranocchia equalized with an acrobatic 12-yard volley.
Sánchez thought he had scored the winner with almost the last kick of the game – as he had against Juventus – but was ruled out for offside.
The former Manchester United striker put his hand in the goal in the 14th minute of extra time. Following an error by the Empoli defence, Sánchez set up Sensi – who had just come on as a substitute.
Sassuolo reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history with a 1-0 win over Cagliari.
He will then face Juventus, holder.
Abdou Harroui scored the game’s only goal in the 18th minute. It was his first goal in Italian football after arriving from Sparta Rotterdam in August.
Cagliari had two goals ruled out for offside.
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