MILAN — Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.
Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.
But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.
"The lads were brilliant, they were brilliant and you couldn’t ask for more, they took Inter to penalties, for us it’s like winning the Italian Cup," Pordenone coach Leonardo Colucci said.
"When you get to penalties it’s a lottery, anyone can make a mistake, I appreciated all those who had the courage to take one. (Inter Coach Luciano) Spalletti told me that we deserved to go through, I thank him because he is a loyal, honest and sincere person."
Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.
Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.
However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi later.
Pordenone went closest to taking the lead during regulation as Inter goalkeeper Daniele Padelli did well to turn Simone Magnaghi’s shot onto the right post.
Inter should have broken the deadlock shortly before halftime but teenager Yann Karamoh fired over with only the goalkeeper to beat after great work from Joao Cancelo.
Perisic was brought on in the 67th and he had a great chance shortly afterward but sent his effort inches wide of the left post.
Even Icardi couldn’t score when he was introduced in the 80th, heading over the bar from close range and sending another header onto the left post in extra time.
The match incredibly went to a penalty shootout, which got off to a bad start for Pordenone as Padelli saved Gianvito Misuraca’s kick.
However, Perilli saved from Skriniar and Roberto Gagliardini, while Luca Lulli blazed over for the visitors.
Salvatore Burrai, Magnaghi and Mirko Stefani converted for Pordenone, while Brozovic, Perisic and Icardi did the same for Inter, so the shootout went to sudden death.
Patrick Ciurria and Vecino netted their efforts but Pordenone defender Giulio Parodi, who is on loan from Juventus, was saved by Padelli.
"Getting through was very hard, Pordenone probably would have deserved to go through, but I still congratulate the lads, Padelli and the others, because it wasn’t easy to win on penalties after that match," Spalletti said.
"The players who have played less until now got into a bit of a difficult tonight, Pordenone had quality in the middle of the park. We got a bit mixed up and couldn’t pass the ball quickly, and when that happens the match becomes more complicated."
Atalanta recovered from conceding an early goal to win at Genoa 2-1 and move into eighth spot in Serie A.
The match was scheduled for Monday but was postponed for 24 hours due to bad weather.
Genoa got off to a great start as Adel Taarabt picked out Andrea Bertolacci for the opener in the fourth minute.
Josip Ilicic levelled on halftime and Genoa wasted several chances to restore its lead before Andrea Masiello headed in a free kick seven minutes after the break to put Atalanta in front.
Genoa remained two points above the drop zone.