Inter gain upper hand in Italian Cup

Rome, May 4 :

Holders Inter Milan gained the upper hand over Roma in the Italian Cup final here on Wednesday, scoring a precious away goal in a 1-1 first leg draw at the Olympic stadium. Argentine striker Julio Cruz gave Inter an early lead, before Roma’s Brazilian winger Mancini equalised after the break.

Roma captain Francesco Totti was on the bench for the first time since fracturing his ankle on February 19, but did not make an appearance. The second leg will be played on May 11 at the San Siro.

In a repeat of last season’s final, which Inter won 3-0, Roma were punished for poor defending in the 8th minute. Cruz fed Adriano and set off towards goal looking for a return pass. Adriano duly obliged, clipping the ball over the Roma defence whose decision to play the offside trap failed, and Cruz took one touch before side-footing past Alexander Doni.

Roma raised the tempo for the start of the second half and Mancini found the equaliser in the 55th minute.