MILAN: Antonio Candreva came off the bench to hit an extra-time winner as wasteful Inter Milan secured their Italian Cup quarterfinal spot with a thrilling 3-2 win over Bologna on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Inter took a 2-1 lead into the interval at the San Siro, where the shine was taken off Jeison Murillo’s superb opener and Rodrigo PalacioA’s well-worked goal by Blerim Dzemaili’s timely 43rd minute strike for the visitors.
Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa, making his first start having failed to impress since a 29.5m euros summer move from FC Santos, forced Bologna ‘keeper Angelo Da Costa down low to block at his near post on 23 minutes as Inter struggled to settle.
But Murillo lifted the mood considerably when he launched himself into the air to meet Roberto Gagliardini’s corner with an impressive overhead kick that left Da Costa with no chance.
When Joao Mario ran in from the right minutes later he found Palacio with a great pass in behind the Bologna defense that the Argentinian slipped past Da Costa at his far post.
But failure to tighten up at the back gave Bologna a sniff of goal and when Federico Di Francesco found Dzemaili with a nice cutback, his effort deflected off Geoffrey Kondogbia to wrong-foot stand-in Inter ‘keeper Juan Carrizo two minutes before the interval.
Inter resumed in positive fashion, but counted the cost for a series of glaring misses when Godfred Donsah headed a 73rd minute equalizer.
Joao Mario headed wide of the upright from Eder’s cross five minutes after the restart then Palacio forced Da Costa into action following a corner three minutes later.
A long-range Eder strike had Da Costa on his toes as it skimmed wide just before the hour and then two quick fire strikes from Palacio and Mario forced Da Costa to parry.
Pioli replaced a tiring Barbosa with Candreva, and Palacio with Mauro Icardi on 71 minutes.
Although their arrival eventually paid dividends, Inter were pegged back in spectacular fashion when Donsah ran in late and rose high to send an unstoppable header past Carrizo for a 73rd minute leveler.
Icardi spurned the chance for the winner minutes later when he bundled Eder’s chipped cross past the upright with the goal at his mercy, the hosts’ last real chance before extra-time.
But the Argentinian, who leads the Serie A scoring charts with 15 goals, made amends with a deflected cross that Candreva collected on the edge of the box on 98 minutes to fire past Da Costa.
Inter will now meet the winner from the Roma v Sampdoria tie, to be played Thursday.