Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni paid tribute to his team after their battling 3-2 extra-time win over Bologna in the Coppa Italia.
The Nerazzurri looked to be cruising into the semi-finals until two late strikes from Bologna’s Alessandro Diamanti and Manolo Gabbiadini sent the tie into extra time on Tuesday night.
However Andrea Ranocchia finally broke Bologna’s resistance with a last-gasp winner.
“The team dug deep again and showed their mettle,” Stramaccioni told Rai Sports.
“We won it thanks to the strength of these lads.
“Inter kept plugging away out there and deserved to go through. We want to do well in this competition and we proved it tonight.”
Stramaccioni also noted that the cream had risen to the top in the Coppa Italia and believes the semi-final line up reflects the best the country has to offer.
“We go into the semi-finals now and whether it’s Fiorentina or Roma who qualify, along with Juventus, Lazio and ourselves, it’s almost the same as the top of the league – like a final four in basketball.”
Stramaccioni also rejected suggestions his side choked a little as they conceded twice in the last 10 minutes of regular time.
“No, it wasn’t a drop at all in the last ten minutes,” he said.
“The game re-opened due to Diamanti’s free kick, because until 10 minutes from time we were leading the game and Diamanti with his great kick gave them a chance.
“And then the equaliser was a mistake we made and we only need to admit that, but I think Inter played a great match and we globally deserved the qualification.”
Stramaccioni said it was too early to tell whether Antonio Cassano would be fit to face Roma this weekend after the forward struggled through the game’s closing stages.
“I prefer to say something when I have spoken to the medical staff,” he said.
“Cassano surely didn’t close the game in excellent condition, but let’s wait tomorrow and hopefully we will recover as many players as possible for the next game against Roma … because that will be another tough game.”