Eto'o brace seals Coppa victory
Inter Milan beat Palermo 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico to lift the Coppa Italia and rescue an otherwise disappointing season. It was Inter's fourth cup success in the last seven years and Palermo's third defeat in as many trips to the cup final.
Samuel Eto'o was the hero for Inter, scoring a brace and taking his season's tally for the club to 37 goals in all competitions. Ezequiel Munoz briefly gave Palermo hope late on, although he was subsequently sent off, before Diego Milito sealed the victory in injury time.
"In football the important thing is to win and without the victory my record wouldn't have been as sweet," Eto'o said.
Palermo had the better start as Abel Hernandez fired into the side-netting in the first minute. Their best chance came on 18 minutes as Javier Pastore and Josip Ilicic played a one-two, but the Argentinian's touch was too heavy and Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar came out to smother.
Pastore then shot over, but Inter scored from their first attack with a lightning counter-attack after Palermo's Ghanaian midfielder Afriyie Acquah lost the ball in midfield under pressure from Thiago Motta. The ball broke to Wesley Sneijder who quickly played it inside full-back Mattia Cassani and Eto'o latched onto the ball at pace to slide it past Salvatore Sirigu.
That took the sting out of Palermo and Inter came closer to scoring again before the break when Sneijder fired a free-kick over. However, the Sicilians were back on the front foot after the restart and substitute Fabrizio Miccoli brought a fine save out of Cesar on the hour mark with a flash header from a right-wing cross.
Dejan Stankovic threw himself in front of a Hernandez shot and Inter also survived a frantic goalmouth scramble after Ilicic's clever backheel put Cassani behind the backline and his cross caused panic in the box. Hernandez then turned Andrea Ranocchia inside the box, but Cristian Chivu got back to make a goal-saving tackle.
As they pushed forward for an equaliser, Palermo left themselves vulnerable at the back and another ball lost in midfield, when Sneijder robbed Giulio Migliaccio, saw the Dutchman slip in Eto'o again to fire across Sirigu and settle the game 14 minutes from time.
It could have been worse still for the game Sicilians as Sirigu pulled off a diving save to deny the excellent Sneijder four minutes from time. However, two minutes later Munoz was left totally free at the back post to head home Miccoli's corner without an Inter defender within touching distance to set up a grandstand finish.
In a wild finish, Munoz was sent off after winning the ball against McDonald Mariga, the referee deeming it a foul, and Eto'o crashed the resulting free-kick against the bar. Then in injury time Goran Pandev teed up Milito to snatch the third goal and put the Coppa out of Palermo's reach.