MILAN, Nov 9 (Reuters) - A 40th minute strike from Argentine Julio Ricardo Cruz gave Italian Cup holders Inter Milan a 1-0 win away to Messina in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Thursday.
Cruz curled a free kick home from 20 metres to ensure Roberto Mancini's side go into the second leg with a one goal advantage as they aim to win the Cup for the third consecutive season.
Inter were one of eight teams granted a bye into the last 16 by virtue of finishing in the top eight in last season's Serie A.
They created a number of chances in the first half before Cruz struck but after the break they were content to keep control of the game and defend their lead.
Serie B side Napoli beat top flight opponents Parma 1-0 in Thursday's other tie.
A 68th minute penalty converted by Cristian Bucchi was enough to give promotion-hunting Napoli victory over the Serie A strugglers.
On Wednesday AC Milan had to fight back from a two-goal deficit to overcome second division side Brescia 4-2 but AS Roma had no such trouble beating another Serie B side, Triestina, with Vincenzo Montella scoring each side of the interval in a 2-1 win.
The return legs are scheduled for November 29 and December 6.