In a season of ups and downs, it comes as really good news knowing that some kids in a black and blue shirt won a meaningful trophy. Especially if those kids are Inter's Primavera team and they won the U21 Coppa Italia. The fact they conquered it against our bitter enemies Juventus add more value to this already quality win.
As the senior Coppa Italia final used to be, Inter and Juventus faced each other twice before one of the two was declared the winner. In the first leg played in Turin, at the Juventus Stadium, the Nerazzurri held the opponents scoreless, while the 19 years old midfielder Mattia Bonetto scored the winning goal in the 27th minute of the first half. It wasn't the prettiest victory as the Bianconeri were better than Inter in both ball possession and shots on goal, but that was the story in many wins by our senior team too, so...
The second leg, played on Wednesday at the San Siro, was a real thriller. Juventus took the lead in the 34th minute with a goal by Kastanos and almost doubled the lead with Macek in the early stages of the second half. Everything changed in the 76th minute when Rey Manaj -- who is often on the bench for the senior team -- received an exquisite long ball inside the box, dribbled past three different Bianconeri players, including the keeper, and scored with a powerful shot.
The young Albanian striker had a bittersweet final though because he was sent off two minutes before the 90th, after having picked up his second yellow card of the match. Fortunately, his ejection didn't compromise the match for Inter, and Loris Zonta sealed the win for the Nerazzurri in the fourth minute of added time, taking advantage of the spaces left by Juventus, who were desperately trying to get the trophy-winning goal.
Stefano Vecchi, Inter's youth team manager, described this competition as "fascinating" because it's played on big stages like the Juventus Stadium or the San Siro, in front of 20,000 people like what happened in this second leg of the final. That's why it's not a meaningless trophy and prepares the young players for what they will have to face in the next stages of their hopefully bright careers as footballers. Inter's manager also said that this 15/16 squad may be less talented than the 14/15 one but they also have a tougher and more team-oriented mentality that will help them succeed in the near future.
Congratulations to Stefano and all Inter's youth team for this amazing and well-deserved trophy.