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HT: Candreva cracks Viola wall

HT: Candreva cracks Viola wall

Nicolò Barella’s scorching volley sealed Inter’s hard-fought 2-1 win over Fiorentina on Christian Eriksen’s debut, setting up a Coppa Italia semi-final with Napoli.

They will face Napoli in a two-legged semi-final, while the other semi is between Juventus and Milan.

New signing Christian Eriksen was on the bench just days after his €20m transfer from Tottenham Hotspur and Antonio Conte surprised everyone by fielding Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez together. Marcelo Brozovic and Roberto Gagliardini were injured, with Matias Vecino returning after his Everton move collapsed. Gaetano Castrovilli, Franck Ribery, Kevin-Prince Boateng and suspended German Pezzella didn’t make the trip.

Pol Lirola’s angled drive flashed just wide, then Dalbert did just about enough to stop Alexis Sanchez nodding in a floated Nicolò Barella pass to the back post.

Both teams struggled to create chances, again Viola defenders using their bodies to prevent a Lautaro Martinez header on Antonio Candreva’s cross.

The deadlock was broken with a well-worked team move and a series of quick passes, but Federico Ceccherini and goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano got into a muddle trying to defend from Lautaro Martinez, so Candreva tapped in the loose ball.

Barella was involved again after the restart, winning back possession to send Lautaro Martinez through, but the Argentine hit the side-netting.

Moments later, Alexis Sanchez’s chest and volley from the edge of the box flew past everyone to skim the far post, then Lautaro Martinez did the same with the crossbar.

Inter were far livelier in this second half, as Terracciano had to palm a Matias Vecino header off the line from Ashley Young’s cross.

Pol Lirola’s effort was deflected just wide and from that corner, Martin Caceres clambered above Lautaro Martinez for the header. It was a surprise equaliser, considering how much the Nerazzurri had dominated the game.

It should’ve been 2-1 for Fiorentina soon after, as Chiesa’s pass found Vlahovic in acres of space, but Samir Handanovic rushed off his line to make a decisive block one-on-one.

Christian Eriksen was introduced for his Inter debut and greeted by a huge roar, but within 30 seconds his team had restored their lead. A poor clearance to the edge of the box found Barella for a scorching low volley into the far bottom corner.

Eriksen thought he’d provided an assist on his debut when Lautaro Martinez ran on to the through ball to score, but Toro was just offside.

Substitute Sebastiano Esposito also had a chance blocked from six yards on a Vecino pull-back. This was the first defeat Fiorentina have experienced since Beppe Iachini took over from Vincenzo Montella in December.

Inter 2-1 Fiorentina

Candreva 44 (I), Caceres 60 (F), Barella 67 (I)

Inter: Handanovic; Godin, Ranocchia, Bastoni; Candreva (Moses 73), Vecino, Barella, Young; Alexis Sanchez (Eriksen 66); R Lukaku (Esposito 88), Lautaro Martinez

Fiorentina: Terracciano; Milenkovic, Ceccherini, Caceres; Lirola (Ghezzal 84), Benassi, Badelj (Cutrone 55), Pulgar, Dalbert; Chiesa (Sottil 79), Vlahovic

Ref: Doveri

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