The final of the 2009 Coppa Italia will be between Lazio and Sampdoria. After four finals in a row between Inter and Roma: the first two won by the Nerazzurri, the last two by the Giallorossi. Samp made it through to the final by holding on at San Siro against Inter, limiting the damage following their sensational 3-0 win at Marassi. It ended 1-0, with a goal from the outstanding Ibrahimovic. Thus the Blucerchiati won the tie and are in the final, despite the 34 point difference between the two teams in Serie A. Inter at least gave themselves a chance, turning a near mission impossible into a possibility. They played with pride and determination, but it wasn’t enough, despite the fact that Mourinho fielded a side seemingly very close to his best. A very good spell at the end of the first half was only partly capitalised on by the Nerazzurri, and in the second half Samp were better organised in defence, and counter-attacked through an inspired Cassano.
SAMP’S START – The Blucerchiati started well, with a very mobile Cassano, who came up with a nice ball to release Sammarco – his left-footer was kept out by a great save from Julio Cesar. Sampdoria almost took the lead, which would have ended any doubts about who was going through to the final.
IBRA STRIKES – But on 27′ the match turned: a manoeuvre worthy of the America’s Cup. Ibrahimovic scored with a spectacular right-footed volley from Cruz’s header. Now Inter were in with a chance, and they threw themselves back on attack. Ibra changed up a gear – he was dangerous with a header, but Castellazzi made the save. But Inter kept up the pressure. And Ibra conjured up a billiards-like shot on the half-volley, a gentle lob with the inside of his right foot that hit the post with Castellazzi beaten. Inter were very close to making it 2-0, which would have meant bedlam at San Siro (even though there were 13,000 visiting fans in the stands). The last chance of the half came five minutes into stoppage time, thanks to a header from Cruz that was just wide from an assist by none other than the unstoppable Ibrahimovic.
CASSANO’S SHOW – The second half began as the first had ended: Ibrahimovic was still unstoppable. A powerful right-footer from Ibra was wide of the mark, but not by much. Then two calls for penalties, one each. Pazzini pleaded in vain for one when he was held by Chivu; Materazzi asked the same question after a tussle with Raggi. Mourinho rang the changes: on came Cambiasso and Crespo for Vieira and Cruz. Samp, who were struggling, looked to their most skilled player, the Blucerchiati’s answer to Ibra. And Cassano came up with a great run into the area, past two defenders, but was stopped by Julio Cesar with a marvellous save to his left. Samp tried to turn things around: a right-footer in a goal mouth scramble by Campagnaro, Maxwell cleared it from the goal line with Julio Cesar beaten.
INTER’S FINALE – Everyone forward, heads down. Ibrahimovic was dangerous again, with a right-footed volley that was just wide from Cambiasso’s header. Then they hit the woodwork, and Burdisso first, followed by Materazzi went close to making it 2-0. But they didn’t. Materazzi was sent off in stoppage time, and Samp went through to the final, to try to claim their fifth Coppa Italia in Rome on 13 May.