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Rediff.com  » Sports » Pele and Cruz send Inter to Italian Cup final

Pele and Cruz send Inter to Italian Cup final

May 08, 2008 10:49 IST

Inter Milan reached their fourth consecutive Italian Cup final after second-half goals from Pele and Julio Cruz sealed a 2-0 win at Lazio on Wednesday. The Serie A leaders will go in search of a second league and cup double in three years and a third cup triumph in four attempts after prevailing 2-0 on aggregate following last month's goalless first leg.

Portuguese midfielder Pele, one of several reserve players on show for Inter, netted against the run of play on 52 minutes when he slotted into the top corner from David Suazo's cutback.

Substitute Cruz, lucky not to receive a red card for punching Aleksandar Kolarov, sealed victory five minutes from time when he took advantage of an error by Lazio's 44-year-old keeper Marco Ballotta following Pele's cross.

Moments earlier, Inter defender Marco Materazzi had been dismissed for a wild tackle while coach Roberto Mancini was sent to the stands for protesting in a bad-tempered game.

Inter, who met Pope Benedict during the day, won despite being second best for much of the game and being more concerned with retaining their Italian title by beating Siena on Sunday.

Lazio, mid-table in Serie A, put out their strongest side in contrast and almost took the lead after two minutes when Cristian Ledesma's free kick struck the post.

Strikers Tommaso Rocchi and Goran Pandev also had decent chances for the hosts, whose only hope of reaching the UEFA Cup next season has been extinguished.

Lazio fans expressed their disapproval towards club president Claudio Lotito at the end and coach Delio Rossi did not want to discuss his position.

"Lazio have not had a great season...but it is not all negative. I have to speak with the president, I have a contract," he told Rai television.

Holders Roma, 1-0 up from the first leg, visit Catania on Thursday in their semi-final second leg.

If Inter fail to beat Siena, second-placed Roma could still snatch the title so Luciano Spalletti is also expected to rest several players with an eye on Sunday's game with Atalanta.

Roma and Inter have contested the last three finals. This year's showpiece is in Rome on May 24.

Source:
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