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By ESPN Staff

Coppa Italia: Cruz gives holders Inter advantage

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.