Inter 3-2 Bologna (2-2 AET): Candreva strikes to send Nerazzurri into Coppa quarters

The hosts had the game under control with a two-goal advantage, but lost their focus and were forced into extra time before the midfielder hit home

Substitute Antonio Candreva scored a 98th-minute winner to send Inter into the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia with an enthralling 3-2 home win over Bologna.

Inter, fresh from six successive victories prior to Tuesday’s game, took the lead in magnificent fashion through Jeison Murillo, who produced a finish belying that of a centre half to convert Joao Mario’s corner with a sensational overhead kick.

Joao Mario then combined with Rodrigo Palacio to make it 2-0, but Bologna were given hope three minutes before half-time courtesy of Blerim Dzemaili’s deflected effort.

Stefano Pioli’s men had numerous opportunities to put the game to bed in the second half and eventually paid the price for not taking them when Godfred Donsah headed Bologna level.

A decisive goal did not arrive inside 90 minutes, but in the first period of extra time Inter benefited from a deflection of their own as Candreva struck what proved to be the winner.

Inter will now face the winner of Wednesday’s contest between Candreva’s old team Lazio and Genoa.

Brazil forward Gabriel Barbosa made his first start of what has been a torrid spell since joining from Santos and he forced Angelo Da Costa into the first meaningful save of the match.

But Da Costa could do nothing but stand in admiration in the 33rd minute when Murillo met Joao Mario’s delivery with a remarkable acrobatic finish.

Antonio Candreva Marcelo Brozovic Inter Bologna Coppa ItaliaGabriel Barbosa Gabigol Inter Bologna Coppa ItaliaJeison Murillo Di Francesco Inter Bologna Coppa Italia

The lead was doubled six minutes later, Joao Mario the architect again as his precise pass from the left flank found Palacio, who kept his composure to smartly tuck the ball into the bottom-left corner.

But Bologna halved the deficit shortly before the interval, launching a quick counter after an Inter attack came to an end when Barbosa surrendered possession and finishing off the move as Federico Di Francesco found Dzemaili, whose shot on the turn was deflected in by Geoffrey Kondogbia.

Joao Mario should have done better when presented with the chance to re-establish Inter’s two-goal lead five minutes after the restart, but succeeded only in turning his header from Eder’s cross wide of the left-hand post.

Da Costa then needed to be alert to prevent Palacio from doubling his tally from a corner and Eder bent wide from just inside the area as Inter continued to pile pressure on the Bologna goal.

Bologna remained a threat, though, Marios Oikonomou’s wayward close-range header serving as a warning to Inter, but Da Costa was by far the busier of the two keepers, making further stops to thwart Palacio and Joao Mario.

Gabriel was withdrawn to a warm ovation from the Inter fans as he was replaced by Candreva, but the applause turned to jeers after the home side’s profligacy was punished for a second time in the 73rd minute by Donsah, who left Juan Pablo Carrizo with no chance when he powered Adam Masina’s far-post cross into the net with a fine header.

Inter laid siege to the Bologna goal in the closing stages, but could not ensure progression in normal time and lived dangerously themselves in extra time, Gary Medel making a goal-mouth clearance from a Di Francesco cross.

However, Bologna’s defence remained suspect and Candreva capitalised by beating the excellent Da Costa after Mauro Icardi’s ball across the face of goal had been inadvertently flicked into his path.

The visitors never looked like mounting another revival, Inter seeing out the result to keep hopes of a first trophy since the 2011 Coppa success alive.

RUMOURS: Premier League duo battle for Ranocchia

The Inter defender has struggled for game time at the Serie A giants and has subsequently been targeted by both West Ham United and Watford

West Ham and Watford are set to battle over Inter defender Andrea Ranocchia this January, according to Calciomercato.

Ranocchia has struggled to make an impression at the Serie A giants, making just five Serie A appearances this season, and is now being targeted by the Premier League duo.

Hammers boss Slaven Bilic is keen to reinforce his defence, but a reunion with his former San Siro boss, Walter Mazzarri, will be on the cards if he opts to move to Vicarage Road.


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'I can always move to China' – Icardi happy at Inter but hints at future exit

The Argentina international has no intention of leaving the San Siro having signed a new five-year deal in October last year

Inter captain Mauro Icardi has not ruled out playing in the Chinese Super League in the future, but he is happy in Serie A.

The lure of the lucrative CSL has seen Oscar and Carlos Tevez become the latest star names to move to China.

Oscar made a record-breaking switch to Shanghai SIPG from Premier League leaders Chelsea, while Tevez joined Shanghai Shenhua.

Icardi, however, has no intention of leaving Milan having signed a new five-year deal in October.

“China? I renewed [my contract],” the 23-year-old told Sky Sports Italia. “I’m happy to be with this shirt.

“China – there is always time at the end of career.”

Icardi was speaking after Inter’s 3-1 win over Chievo on Saturday.

The Argentine forward scored a second-half equaliser, taking his tally to 15 goals, as Inter extended their winning streak to five matches.

“We are on the right track. Now we’ve got to focus on the next match in the Coppa Italia, then turn to Serie A again,” Icardi added via Mediaset Premium.

“We are working on our mentality, everyone sacrifices himself for his team-mates. Third place is the objective and has been from the start of the season. We had a bit of a rough beginning, but we’re recovering lost ground.

“If the team wins, then I am happy. I’m also happy for Eder and his goal. This is a great squad, I’ve said that since the start of the campaign.”


Pioli lauds 'exceptional' Icardi after dramatic Inter win

The Nerazzurri coach had nothing but praise for the Argentine forward in the wake of Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Chievo at San Siro

Stefano Pioli hailed Mauro Icardi after the Argentine led Inter to a 3-1 win over Chievo with a goal and an assist.

The hosts fell behind to Sergio Pellissier’s first-half strike at San Siro, but Icardi levelled 20 minutes from time and then laid one on for Ivan Perisic, with Eder having the final say well into stoppage time.

Icardi has now scored 15 goals and set up seven in this Serie A campaign, at least six more than any other player, and Pioli had nothing but praise for his captain after Inter’s fifth consecutive league win.

Inter late show crushes Chievo

“Icardi was very strong,” Pioli told Premium Sport.

“I have worked with some great attackers, but Mauro’s stats are exceptional. He does not just score, but also works incredibly hard.

“Mauro is the captain and trying to give the right example. The team is following him and I see great commitment from everyone, both in matches and on the training pitch.

“We are very pleased with the win, but the season is still long and we have to continue on this path.”

#InterChievo 3-1: @MauroIcardi, #Perisic and @Edercitadin7 get the goals as Inter come from behind

Inter 3-1 Chievo: Three second half goals seal dramatic win for Piolo's men

Sergio Pellissier opened the scoring at the San Siro, but the hosts made it five wins in a row through Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic and Eder

Inter left it late but secured a fifth successive victory in Serie A on Saturday as they saw off Chievo 3-1.

The visitors rocked the hosts by taking the lead on 34 minutes, with veteran frontman Sergio Pellissier breaking the deadlock.

Inter hit back, though, in the 69th minute when Mauro Icardi grabbed his 17th goal of the season.

The turnaround was completed four minutes from the end when Ivan Perisic fired home.

There was, however, still time for Eder to add a third in stoppage-time and lift his side above arch-rivals AC Milan and into fifth spot.

More to follow…