Conte: ‘Inter deserved qualification’

Antonio Conte insists Inter fully deserved their place in the Coppa Italia quarter-final and ‘certainly had the chances’ to beat Fiorentina in normal time.

The Nerazzurri needed a Romelu Lukaku header at the 118th minute to finally get the better of Fiorentina in extra time, after Arturo Vidal’s penalty and a Christian Kouame strike.

“The qualification was deserved and it could’ve come in the opening 90 minutes, because we certainly had the chances to win it,” Conte told Inter TV.

“The lads did well, playing 120 minutes with a good tempo, intensity and organisation. I am satisfied. I’m also happy for those players who haven’t featured for a while, like Aleksandar Kolarov and Andrea Ranocchia, as they proved how much they care for Inter.

“This was the best Inter side based on the choices I could make. Achraf Hakimi was running a fever yesterday, for example. I put together a strong line-up to win the game and got a strong response from everyone.”

Inter could’ve done without playing extra time just days before their Serie A showdown with Juventus this weekend.

“There is a positive aspect too, as the fact we won in a difficult arena like Florence will boost confidence and recharge the batteries. These lads have won eight of their last 11 games, drawing with Roma and losing to Samp, yet it never seems to be enough.

“It was important to qualify and that is an injection of pure energy into the squad.”


Coppa: Milan beat Torino on penalties

Milan needed a penalty shoot-out to finally get the better of Torino and book their place in the Coppa Italia quarter-final.

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The winners of the Round of 16 tie will go on to face Inter or Fiorentina in the quarter-final. It’ll be decided after 90 minutes, extra time or penalties.

These sides already met in Serie A on Saturday, with Milan winning 2-0, but both line-ups were completely transformed, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first start since a thigh strain on November 22.

Davide Calabria tested Vanja Milinkovic-Savic from distance and Ibrahimovic’s chest and half-volley was just over the bar, but Ciprian Tatarusanu had to make the first genuine save on Amer Gojak’s turn on the edge of the box.

After the restart, Hakan Calhanoglu and Jens Petter Hauge came on, but Leao had a huge chance when sent clear by Brahim Diaz, firing straight at the goalkeeper.

Milan had a huge double chance on 57 minutes, as first Calabria forced a reaction save from Milinkovic-Savic, then Diogo Dalot fired the rebound onto the inside of the upright.

Moments later, the same post was struck again by Calabria, whose volley from 10 yards took a deflection off Cristian Ansaldi.

Milinkovic-Savic got into a mess on a back-pass and Leao tried to pounce, they collided, but the referee waved away penalty appeals and red-carded Gianluigi Donnarumma on the bench for dissent, which means the goalkeeper will be suspended in the Coppa.

The Toro goalkeeper did better using his legs to parry a Calhanoglu shot from a tight angle, but Vojvoda went off with a dislocated shoulder.

Brahim Diaz should’ve won it late on, but was leaning back and ballooned over the bar, then Gojak went clear on the counter, but fell too easily under pressure from Sandro Tonali.

Just like when they met in the Coppa Italia last season, Milan and Torino could not be divided after 90 minutes and went to extra time.

Theo Hernandez tested Milinkovic-Savic from a tricky angle and Calhanoglu drilled inches wide, while 19-year-old debutant Giacomo Olzer hit one straight at the goalkeeper.

Gojak spotted Ciprian Tatarusanu off his line and attempted an audacious lob, but it was off target. Unlike last season, when Milan won in extra time, this went to penalties.

All the spot-kicks were converted except for Tomas Rincon, whose effort was parried by Tatarusanu. Even Torino goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic scoring one himself wasn’t enough to save the Granata.

Milan 0-0 Torino (aet, 5-4 on pens)

Penalties: Belotti (T, goal), Kessie (M, goal), Lukic (T, goal), Theo Hernandez (M, goal), Lyanco (T, goal), Tonali (M, goal), Rincon (T, saved), Romagnoli (M, goal), V Milinkovic-Savic (T, goal), Calhanoglu (M, goal)

Milan: Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Musacchio (Kessie 62), Romagnoli, Dalot; Calabria (Theo Hernandez 62), Tonali; Castillejo (Calhanoglu 46), Brahim Diaz (Olzer 106), Leao; Ibrahimovic (Hauge 46)

Torino: V Milinkovic-Savic; Bremer (Lyanco 83), Nkoulou, Buongiorno; Vojvoda (Lukic 83), Segre, Rincon, Linetty (Singo 63), Ansaldi (Murru 63); Gojak, Zaza (Belotti 92)

Ref: Valeri

Sent off: G Donnarumma 73 (M, from bench)


Prandelli’s Fiorentina will ‘attack’ Inter

Cesare Prandelli wants Fiorentina to play ‘open and attacking football’ against Inter in the Coppa Italia and hails Dusan Vlahovic.

The Round of 16 tie kicks off on Wednesday at 14.00 GMT.

“We must not see the Coppa Italia as an inconvenience. Those who step onto the field must trouble an excellent Inter squad and we want to play open and attacking football,” said Prandelli in his press conference.

The Viola are fresh from a much-needed Serie A victory over Cagliari.

“Many people kept saying we were not a relegation-level team, and yet we were always down there. We finally got down to the dirty work with Cagliari, showing determination and hunger.

“There’s a long way to go yet, but the foundations are there. We have to always approach games with the mentality that this is the last match of the season and we’re fighting for safety.”

Pietro Terracciano will start in goal and Gaetano Castrovilli returns after he was suspended against Cagliari, but Franck Ribery is still out injured.

“In order to combat the physicality of Inter, we must be faster and more concentrated on our marking. They are a squad well-equipped to win every tournament they are in, but there are some teams who are weaker than us and caused them problems with great performances, so why can’t we?”

Prandelli reserved praise for striker Dusan Vlahovic, who can’t seem to stop scoring at the moment.

“When you have young players, they are like sponges, eager to soak up information and learn constantly. I have seen very few players, perhaps only Adriano, who was this good at the age of 20. Having said that, we have to approach this with balance, because until a few weeks ago there were doubts about Vlahovic.

“The club is negotiating with his agent to decide his future.”

Fiorentina squad for Inter: Dragowski, Terracciano; Barreca, Biraghi, Caceres, Dalle Mura, Igor, Martinez Quarta, Milenkovic, Pezzella, Venuti; Amrabat, Bonaventura, Castrovilli, Duncan, Eysseric, Borja Valero, Krastev; Callejon, Kouame, Montiel, Vlahovic


Report: No injury for Pezzella

Fiorentina defender German Pezzella has reportedly avoided a serious injury against Cagliari.

Pezzella was forced to leave the pitch in the first half of the 1-0 win over Cagliari due to a problem in the hamstring.

FirenzeViola reports the centre-back underwent tests that has revealed the defender avoided injuries to the left thigh and he has already started the appropriate therapies to return to the pitch.

He will be assessed for the Coppa Italia match against Inter on Wednesday.


Inter meet with Bastoni

Inter are reportedly meeting with Alessandro Bastoni’s representatives, working on a deal until June 2025.

Tuttomercatoweb claims the Nerazzurri are meeting with the defender’s entourage today to discuss the future and negotiate a new deal for the young Italy international.

Bastoni has been in talks with the Beneamata for quite some time and the talks are advancing, and the outlet claims the club is preparing a bumper new deal until the summer of 2025.

The 21-year-old has played 14 times in Serie A this term, contributing one assist in the process.

His current deal expires in June 2023, but the impressive performances since his return from loan at Parma in 2018-19 has convinced the Nerazzurri to extend with the centre-back already.