Inter Milan marked the return of Jose Mourinho to the San Siro on Tuesday by dumping their idol’s new team Roma out of the Italian Cup 2-0 and reaching the semi-finals.
Mourinho coached in front of an Inter home crowd for the first time since leaving in 2010 but after being warmly welcomed back by supporters in Milan, Roma limply exited the competition thanks to a goal almost straight from kick-off by Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez’s second-half piledriver.
The win for Inter, who will meet either AC Milan or Lazio in the last four with those sides facing each other on Wednesday, was the perfect response to losing the derby on Saturday, the tempestuous aftermath of which has led to coach Simone Inzaghi being suspended for the weekend’s huge clash at fellow Serie A title-chasers Napoli.
Portuguese Mourinho is a footballing deity for Inter fans thanks to two magical seasons on the Nerazzurri bench which culminated with the treble triumph of Serie A, the Italian Cup and most importantly the Champions League.
He beat Roma to the league title and cup in a battle of former Chelsea managers with Claudio Ranieri, only seeing off his Blues predecessor to the championship on the final day of the 2009-10 season.
“I won’t ever hide that my relationship with Inter is one that will last forever. But I came here to win for Roma and my supporters who today are the Roma supporters.” said Mourinho.
“We didn’t win but apart from the first five minutes I saw a Roma team play well against a team against whom it’s not easy to play well.”
The fans present at the San Siro – in much lower numbers than for the derby – made their feelings very clear about their former boss of bosses.
The hardcore supporters in the Curva Nord unfurled a banner which read “Welcome home Jose” and chanted his name throughout the build-up to kick-off.
Once the teams came out the applause for the home fans hero spread around the stadium, and Mourinho responded by waving and blowing kisses to all four corners of the ground.
Supporters even booed referee Marco Di Bello when he booked Mourinho for protesting at the end of the first half.
With the match underway the Inter players were in no mood to do Mourinho any favours, with Roma old boy Dzeko placing home a beautiful volley from Ivan Perisic’s cross with just over a minute on the clock.
Nicolo Barella then crashed a long-rage drive off the bar before Milan Skriniar headed straight at Rui Patricio from point blank range.
Roma then woke up and after a Rick Karsdorp cross was diverted onto the bar, Nicolo Zaniolo wasted a great chance to level the scores, shooting straight at Samir Handanovic when put one-on-one by Tammy Abraham.
The contest then turned scrappy and not long before the break a tearful Alessandro Bastoni was carried off the pitch after going over on his right ankle, with Inter later saying the defender had twisted it.
Handanovic and Patricio both pulled off impressive stops from distance efforts from Sergio Oliveira and Barella just after the hour mark, but Patricio could do nothing to keep out Sanchez’s rocket which ended the tie in the 68th minute.
All that was left for the Inter fans was to belt out Mourinho’s name one last time and look ahead to a massive week which as well as Napoli away includes the Champions League visit of Liverpool.