Alexis Sanchez drilled in a long-range strike to seal Internazionale’s 2-0 Coppa Italia quarterfinal win over AS Roma on Tuesday, after Jose Mourinho received a hero’s welcome at San Siro in his first game as an opposing coach at his former club.
Edin Dzeko powered home a volley inside the opening two minutes to put Inter ahead, and Nicolo Barella was inches away from a second when he smashed a shot off the bar.
Chile forward Sanchez lashed a shot into the top corner from 25 yards after the break to set up a semifinal against AC Milan or Lazio, who face off on Wednesday.
It was an emotional night for Mourinho, who led Inter to back-to-back Serie A titles and an unprecedented Treble during two seasons at Inter between 2008 and 2010, as the home fans sang his name and unveiled a banner saying – “Welcome home Jose.”
“The way they welcomed me here, the directors gave me a beautiful gift and then the fans were very nice to me, this is the emotional side. I can only say thank you. I will never hide my eternal relationship with Inter,” Mourinho told Mediaset.
“But I came here to win, for my Roma and my people, and we didn’t manage to. Apart from the first five minutes we played very well.”
Juventus face Sassuolo and Fiorentina take on Atalanta in the remaining quarterfinals on Thursday.
Mourinho’s first season at Roma has been filled with ups and downs, but the Inter fans left no doubt about their high regard for the Portuguese boss as they celebrated his return, 4,293 days after his last game in charge at the San Siro since May 2010.
However, Mourinho was soon left with little to smile about as an Inter side looking for an instant response to their weekend Milan Derby defeat started fast.
Less than two minutes were on the clock when ex-Roma striker Dzeko got on the end of an Ivan Perisic cross and volleyed home.
Inter dominated early on and Barella was denied by the bar, but Nicolo Zaniolo drew a good save from Samir Handanovic as Roma responded.
There was bad news for Inter when Italy international defender Alessandro Bastoni had to be helped off the pitch limping with an apparent ankle injury.
Both goalkeepers impressed after the break, Handanovic reacting well to tip over a deflected strike and Rui Patricio flying left to palm out another dangerous Barella effort.
Milan Skriniar performed an extraordinary glancing header clearance off the line after Zaniolo had rounded Handanovic and curled a shot at goal from a tight angle.
But Inter nerves were settled in the 68th minute, when Sanchez found space on the edge of the box to unleash a missile of a finish.
“The guys did very well because it wasn’t a simple match,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi.
“Roma have quality and a great squad, but we deserved to reach the semi-final, knowing that we are coming off a big setback. To organise a game like this after two-and-a-half days wasn’t easy.”