MILAN – Finishing in style, finishing with a trophy. The 2011 Coppa Italia brought the season to a successful end for Leonardo’s Inter, one which had consisted of highs and lows. It started with the Supercoppa Italiana triumph before defeat in the UEFA Super Cup followed. In December 2010, the Nerazzurri became world club champions after beating TP Mazembe in Abu Dhabi. There was then a change in Coach, with Leonardo taking Benitez’s place. The title race finished with Inter in second place behind Milan, while the team’s Champions League journey was ended by Schalke 04 at the quarter-final stage. And then there was the Coppa Italia, a competition that the Nerazzurri were eager to win. Their opponents in the final were Delio Rossi’s talented Palermo side containing the likes of Pastore, Ilicic and Abel Hernandez.
150 years on from Italy’s unification, Inter and the Rosanero met in the final of the country’s cup competition for the first time. Leonardo was without the suspended Maicon and the injured Cambiasso. Andrea Ranocchia, who remains on the Club’s books today, lined up next to Lucio in defence. Eto'o and Pazzini were chosen to lead the line, with Sneijder supporting the duo up top. Milito started on the bench.
A game that would be far from easy, and one which ended up being quite the spectacle. The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute. In the Coppa Italia final a year earlier, Sneijder had been forced to leave the pitch after just a few minutes. Against Palermo, however, the Dutchman wasn’t going to be stopped. It was his through ball which Eto’o gratefully received, and the Cameroonian made no mistake when one-on-one with Sirigu. The same formula was used 15 minutes from time: Sneijder picked out Eto’o, who made it 2-0. Palermo, however, never capitulated and were able to threaten on a number of occasions, with Julio Cesar a reassuring presence in the Nerazzurri goal. The closing stages were action-packed: Eto’o took a free kick which was deflected onto the bar, an unmarked Muñoz reduced the arrears but was sent off shortly afterwards, while Diego Milito put the game to bed once and for all in stoppage time. Another goalscoring contribution in a final, another trophy in the cabinet. This was Inter’s seventh Coppa Italia success.
INTER 3-1 PALERMO, 2011 COPPA ITALIA FINAL
Goalscorers: 26' and 76’ Eto'o, 88’ Muñoz, 92’ Milito.
Inter: 1 Julio Cesar; 55 Nagatomo, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta (82’ 17 Mariga), 5 Stankovic; 10 Sneijder (87’ 22 Milito); 7 Pazzini (16' 27 Pandev), 9 Eto'o.
Substitutes: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel.
Palermo: 46 Sirigu; 16 Cassani, 6 Muñoz, 3 Goian (69’ 80 Carrozzieri), 42 Balzaretti; 8 Migliaccio, 94 Acquah (55’ 10 Miccoli), 23 Nocerino; 72 Ilicic, 27 Pastore; 9 Hernandez (77’ 51 Pinilla).
Substitutes: 99 Benussi, 4 Kasami, 11 Liverani, 36 Darmian.
Coach: Delio Rossi.
Referee: Emidio Morganti
Bookings: 27' Acquah, 53’ Muñoz, 68’ Carrozzieri.
Sent off: 89’ Rossi, 90’ Muñoz.
Added time: 1'-5'.
INTER’S RUN IN THE 2010/11 COPPA ITALIA
ROUND OF 16
Inter-Genoa 3-2 - Eto'o (I), Eto'o (I), Karjha (G) (pen.), Mariga (I), Sculli (G)
Napoli 0-0 Inter (Inter win 5-4 on penalties)
First leg: Roma 0-1 Inter - Stankovic
Second leg: Inter 1-1 Roma - Eto'o (I), Borriello (R)
Inter 3-1 Palermo - Eto'o (I), Eto'o (I), Muñoz (P), Milito (I)