Leonardo lifts first trophy with Inter
Inter Milan finished a turbulent season today with a Coppa Italia title and no one was happier than coach Leonardo.
The Brazilian had an opportunity to lead the Nerazzurri past his former club AC Milan in the race to the Scudetto but they end up finishing as runners-up. Yet his players made sure he ended the campaign on a high with a 3-1 victory over Palermo in the Coppa Italia final in Rome.
"It has been an enormous satisfaction in a year that has been different for me and for Inter with so many changes," said Leonardo, who replaced Rafael Benitez in December after the Spaniard was sacked. "To be able to end the last game of the campaign with a trophy is something marvellous."
Inter president Massimo Moratti believed Leonardo would deliver an honour in his debut season with the team. He also felt it important to recognise Palermo, who reached their first final since 1979 and made things interesting at the end when Ezequiel Munoz scored to make it 2-1.
Inter, who got two goals from Samuel Eto'o, killed the game off when substitute Diego Milito notched the team's third deep into stoppage time.
"Palermo is a beautiful team that has played a great game," said Moratti. "I congratulate Leonardo and my players because they gave everything tonight."
The two goals by Eto'o gave him 37 goals for the season in all competitions, one more than his previous record at Barcelona. "The important thing was to win," said Eto'o. "It's a good tally but without victories it would not be so sweet."
Eto'o, whose future at the club has been in doubt, added: "Moratti says that I'm staying and of course I will remain."
Palermo coach Delio Rossi's future is in question as well. The tactician was in tears after the game. "We leave with our heads held high," said Palermo midfielder Giulio Migliaccio. "We played but they are a team made out of champions. To have brought many fans from Palermo is already a matter of pride."