Coppa Italia, Final - 24/5/08 (20.00)
Roma 2 - 1 Inter
Mexes 35 (R), Perrotta 53 (R), Pele 59 (I)
Roma have retained the Coppa Italia, beating Inter 2-1 in a thrilling encounter at the Stadio Olimpico.
Philippe Mexes opened the scoring for the Giallorossi before the break and Simone Perrotta doubled their advantage soon after the interval.
Pele came on for Inter and had an immediate impact, outfoxing Doni from nearly 30 yards on 59 minutes to set up a tense finish, while Mirko Vucinic and Nicolas Burdisso were sent off.
Thousands of fans descended on the capital to watch the final, which formally marks the end of the season in Italy.
The build-up focused on the need to put the polemic that has embroiled the two teams behind. Roma and Inter captains, Francesco Totti and Javier Zanetti, appealed for a good-natured contest, but the match turned out to be a powder keg.
Giallorossi Coach Luciano Spalletti sprung a surprise on Inter, replacing Mancini with Ludovic Giuly and Christian Panucci with Marco Cassetti’s. The latter’s inclusion was without doubt a success, as the former Lecce defender bombed up and down the Inter flank, wreaking havoc.
I Lupi started at a quick pace and tried relentlessly to catch Inter on the break. The Nerazzurri weathered the storm, played their own game and had the first chance.
Former Lazio trequartista Dejan Stankovic ran onto a ball and struck it first time from just outside the Roma penalty area, waking up Doni.
Despite Roma’s fluency, Inter continued to go closer in the early stages. Patrick Vieira saw his header go over the bar after 21 minutes, while Maxwell had to content himself with a corner after working Doni from the middle.
The Giallorossi, meanwhile, found their rhythm and began to turn on the style. Spalletti watched Simone Perrotta and Cassetti nearly break the deadlock at the half-hour mark, before Mexes’ inspired goal.
The Frenchman bamboozled Francesco Toldo by going to the near post to knock in David Pizarro’s exquisite corner on 36 minutes.
Roma were clearly in the ascendancy as the clock ticked to half time. Alberto Aquilani scared Toldo before the interval with a deflected shot from the right. Inter tried to respond immediately, but were frustrated when Referee Morganti blew for the break while the Nerazzurri counter-attacked.
A bevy of Inter players angrily confronted the official, only to be told to go away. And it was about to get worse for Inter, who clearly let it affect them. Simone Perrotta added to Roma’s lead on 53 minutes.
Marco Cassetti found Perrotta from his own half, launching a pass worthy of a quarterback, which the former Chievo maestro ran onto, exchanged with Vucinic and rifled in from close range.
Shell-shocked, Inter Coach Roberto Mancini needed someone to take the game by the scruff the neck, and that man was to be Pele who came on at half time.
The youngster lived up to his name and got the Nerazzurri back into the match with a wonderful strike from miles out, less than 10 minutes after Perrotta’s goal.
The blood really started pumping in the players’ veins and, unfortunately, it spilled over. Nicolas Burdisso scythed down Mirko Vucinic on 73 minutes, to which the Montenegrin reacted badly. Morganti sent both players off and killed the game.
Aquilani was to have the last chance of the match, hitting yet another thunderbolt from the right, but Inter were resigned and didn’t take advantage of the six added minutes.
As the final whistle blew, Roma’s injured talisman Francesco Totti and Rodrigo Taddei leapt onto the pitch to celebrate with their teammates.
The victory marks Roma’s ninth ever Coppa Italia and caps off a fine season for the Giallorossi.
Roma: Doni; Casetti, Juan, Mexes, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Giuly (Cicinho 70), Aquilani (Panucci 91), Perrotta (Brighi 74); Vucinic
Red card: Vucinic 73
Inter: Toldo; Maicon, Burdisso, Chivu, Maxwell; Zanetti (Crespo 89); Balotelli, Vieira, Cesar (Jimenez 61), Stankovic (Pele 46); Suazo
Red card: Burdisso 73