ROME, Italy, May 12 – Inter Milan lifted their eighth Coppa Italia on Wednesday after beating former foes Juventus 4-2 in an incident-filled and controversial extra-time win.
Ivan Perisic secured a thrilling victory with a brace in the first half of extra time, but the game was suspended with the award of a seemingly soft penalty which Hakan Calhanoglu crushed to take the game past 90 minutes .
Juve had deservedly led thanks to quick goals from Alex Sandro and Dusan Vlahovic early in the second half and referee Paolo Valeri’s decision to kick in after Lautaro Martinez fell following a he slight touch from Leonardo Bonucci enraged Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
“I always thought we could do it, even when we were down 2-1… We lost our minds a bit for 10 or 15 minutes but we fought back and I think we really deserved to win,” Perisic told Mediaset.
For Inter it’s another success against Juve after another controversial win in Turin last month and beating them in the Italian Super Cup earlier in the season and it’s one that will boost them in their defense of the Serie A title.
Simone Inzaghi’s side lead AC Milan by two points and could hand the Scudetto to their local rivals if they fail to beat relegation-threatened Cagliari on Sunday.
Juve meanwhile only have Champions League qualification to show for an up-and-down season, but they chose to say nothing about the sanction decision which denied them a trophy.
“Inter are fighting for the league title and we are behind them. We have to close this gap with hard work and look to sort out the squad,” Allegri said.
Nicolo Barella put Inter ahead in the sixth minute with a long-range effort that would soon be forgotten amid the controversy to come.
His hard-hitting strike came after a blistering start from Inter that threatened to blast Juve, with the Italian midfielder recovering from a clear corner, cutting wide and unleashing a curling effort that Mattia Perin didn’t even have bothered to try to quit.
– Penalty drama –
However, from then on Juve were the better team and should have entered the break at least level, if not ahead.
Paulo Dybala was the first to offer signs of life in the 23rd minute when his low shot was comfortably stopped.
Moments later, the Argentine fed Vlahovic whose powerful angled drive needed some clever reactions from Samir Handanovic to be kept away.
Matthijs de Ligt had a well-saved header on the half-hour mark and it looked to everyone like Dybala would pick up a deserved leveler when the following corner fell nicely to him, but he sliced his first strike wide.
Juve quickly turned the game around, however, with Sandro leveling the scores five minutes after the break when his shot slipped through Handanovic’s hands as Alvaro Morata tried to deflect the ball.
Juve fans were jumping and their end of the pitch exploded with joy seconds later, with Vlahovic ending a four-game dry spell in front of goal after being sent through on goal by Dybala.
The Serbian striker fired Danilo D’Ambrosio and although his first effort was denied, the 22-year-old didn’t make any mistakes on the rebound.
Juve seemed to have the game under control until referee Valeri gave Inter an ill-deserved lifeline.
Calhanoglu went home from the spot and an already fired-up Juve side then lost control when De Ligt was put on trial after a VAR check for taking down Stefan de Vrij.
Perisic stepped up to crush the penalty in the 99th minute and once the Croatian’s decisive second came from distance three minutes later, there was chaos, with Allegri sent off and players and officials arguing on the sidelines.
However, Juve could not turn that anger into a fight back and Inter won the honors to set up a potential league and cup double with the Serie A season heading towards its peak.