What should have been a near cakewalk turned into pins and needles as Inter Milan needed extra time and a shootout to get past Serie C side Pordenone in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 Tuesday.
It was substitute Yuto Nagatomo who belted home the penalty winner after Roberto Gagliardini and Milan Skriniar both missed their chances from the spot.
Starting mostly his bench, Inter boss Luciano Spalletti could only watch as opportunity after opportunity was squandered throughout the first half.
Yann Karamoh had an attempt to put the Nerazzurri ahead in the 13th minute after Andrea Ranocchia delivered a cross, but the attempt sailed wide. Roberto Gagliardini nearly connected six minutes later, but his shot was well off target.
Dalbert and Karamoh each attempts in the half as the Nerazzurri out-possessed Pordenone 55% to 44% and had twice as many shots on target.
Starting goalkeeper Daniele Padelli was able to push aside the lone attempt from the Friuli side in the 31st minute.
“Magnaghi had a good effort in the first half,” Padelli told Inter TV. “This was an important save because a goal conceded would have complicated things for us.”
In the second half, Spalletti brought on Marcelo Brozovic to add more attacking options. It seemed to work but neither Brozovic nor Gagliardini could connect on their attempts in the 48th minute.
Inter continued to pepper the Pordenone goalkeeper throughout the second half as even Ivan Perisic came in and attempted shots late. Mauro Icardi came on with about 10 minutes left in regulation and nearly sent in a winner, but his header went wide.
In extra time, Icardi came close again but his shot rattled off the goal post. Ranocchia took a cross from Brozovic and nearly connected, but the Pordenone net-minder came away with the stop.
In the penalty shootout, it was Padelli who came up on Pordenone’s fifth shot to deny and open the door for Nagatomo’s winner.
“I am happy to have made my season debut, however we would’ve liked to perform better out on the pitch,” Padelli said. “As time passed by we went into a little bit of a frenzy. Pordenone proved themselves to be a tough team. I would be happy for them if they managed to reach Serie B.”