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 By PA Sport

Stevan Jovetic's goal helps Inter beat Napoli in Coppa Italia

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Jovetic Inter goal vs Napoli 160119
Stevan Jovetic fired Inter into the Copoa semifinals.

Inter Milan booked their place in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia with a hard-earned 2-0 victory at Serie A leaders Napoli.

Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic were on target for the visitors in the second half as Napoli lost for only the second time since August.

Napoli's misery was compounded by the dismissal of Dries Mertens late on, earning his second yellow card for simulation.

The Partenopei -- who are two points ahead of Juventus and four clear of Inter at the top of the table -- had created the better chances of a goalless first half.

Belgian midfielder Mertens, one of several changes by Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri, saw a curling effort saved by Samir Handanovic, with the Inter goalkeeper then producing a fine one-handed stop to deny Jose Callejon.

Manolo Gabbiadini's free-kick was also dealt with by the Slovenian as the visitors closed out the first half.

Inter regrouped for the second half, with Gary Medel firing over from Jovetic's cross.

Sarri sent on first Slovak playmaker Marek Hamsik and then striker Gonzalo Higuain -- who had netted four goals in his last two games -- for the final 20 minutes to try to inject new life into the hosts.

However, it was Inter who secured the breakthough after 73 minutes when Jovetic, on loan from Manchester City, charged forward after Hamsik had lost the ball in midfield and cracked in a superb 25-yard effort over static keeper Pepe Reine and into the top right corner.

Higuain glanced a near-post header over and Mertens' snapshot was blocked by Handanovic, who scrambled the loose ball clear.

Napoli's frustrating evening was compounded with three minutes left when Mertens, who had already been cautioned, was shown a second yellow card followed by a red after taking a fall in the penalty area when under pressure from Miranda.

In stoppage time, Ljajic raced clear as Napoli pressed up field for an equaliser, running half the length of the pitch to hold off the retreating defenders and slot into the bottom left corner from the edge of the penalty area.

As Inter celebrated, tempers flared in the rival technical areas, with Inter boss Roberto Mancini sent to the stands.

Handanovic tipped over a 20-yard curler from Higuain as Inter held out to secure a semi-final against either Juventus or Lazio, who play on Wednesday night.


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