MILAN - Inter fought until the last minute in their bid to overturn a three-goal deficit and reach a fifth consecutive Tim Cup final, but had to settle for a 1-0 victory in Thursday's semi-final return leg at the Giuseppe Meazza as Sampdoria set up a final with Lazio.
Ibrahimovic fired an early warning sign to the Blucerchiati when his ninth-minute rocket shot was well saved by Castellazzi, but Sampdoria hit back within seconds and Sammarco was denied by the feet of Julio Cesar after collecting Cassano's intelligent through ball.
Pazzini was left rueing a good chance when he headed wide Pieri's cross from the left before the half-hour as Inter poured forward on the counter-attack and Ibrahimovic fired Cruz' chested pass beyond Castellazzi, breathing confidence into the Nerazzurri.
An inspirational Ibrahimovic forced Castellazzi into a one-handed save with his powerful header from Balotelli's cross, and the woodwork denied Inter a second when the Swede's outrageous lob from the left angle of the box came back off the crossbar with the Samp keeper stranded.
The Nerazzurri were unlucky again in added time at the end of the first half when Cruz headed just wide after beautifully crafted move involving Balotelli and Ibrahimovic.
Mourinho brought on Chivu for Cordoba at the break, introducing Crespo and Cambiasso for Cruz and Vieira with just nine minutes of the second half on the clock. Inter piled on the pressure but Sampdoria were dangerous on the break and Cassano tested Julio Cesar with a low diagonal effort after ghosting past three opponents.
The visitors went closer still with fifteen minutes remaining when Julio Cesar's palmed clearance from Palombo's cross fell to Campagnaro, whose shot was cleared off the line by Maxwell.
Samp were made to sweat until the final whistle and Ibrahimovic volleyed narrowly wide after latching on to Cambiasso's headed pass, before Burdisso saw his shot blocked on the line by Castellazzi after Ibra's deflected cross-shot came back off the bar.
Inter 1-0 Sampdoria (HT: 1-0; AGG: 1-3)
Scorer: Ibrahimovic 27.
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 39 Santon, 2 Cordoba (26 Chivu 46), 23 Materazzi, 6 Maxwell; 14 Vieira (19 Cambiasso 54), 16 Burdisso, 4 Zanetti; 9 Cruz (18 Crespo 54), 8 Ibrahimovic, 45 Balotelli.
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 21 Obinna, 33 Mancini, 47 Krhin.
Coach: José Mourinho.
Sampdoria: 1 Castellazzi; 5 Accardi, 6 Lucchini, 16 Campagnaro; 84 Raggi (23 Stankevicius 66), 17 Palombo, 21 Sammarco, 19 Franceschini, 46 Pieri; 10 Pazzini (20 Padalino 90+1), 99 Cassano (40 Delvecchio 78).
Subs not used: 83 Mirante, 88 Dessena, 89 Marilungo.
Coach: Walter Mazzarri.
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Schio).
Booked: Cordoba 22, Ibrahimovic 32, Accardi 60, Raggi 63, Zanetti 79, Chivu 81, Pazzini 88, Materazzi 90+4.
Sent off: Materazzi 90+4.