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Napoli beat Inter to close in on Italian Cup final and PSG stroll into French Cup last four

Elsewhere in Europe tonight there were cup wins for PSG, Ajax and Athletic Bilbao.

Only one goal in tonight's Coppa Italia semi-final.
Only one goal in tonight's Coppa Italia semi-final.
Image: Massimo Paolone/Lapresse

FABIAN RUIZ SCORED the only goal as Napoli shocked Inter Milan 1-0 in their Italian Cup semi-final, first leg tie in the San Siro tonight.

The Spanish midfielder broke through after 57 minutes to get Gennaro Gattuso’s side back to winning ways after their 3-2 league defeat at home to lowly Lecce last weekend.

Ruiz picked up a Giovanni Di Lorenzo cross, beating three Inter defenders to curl in past a helpless Daniele Padelli.

Antonio Conte’s side looked sluggish days after their thrilling 4-2 derby win over AC Milan which put them top of the Serie A table.

Both sides had their chances in the first half with Lautaro Martínez nodding wide with Padelli denying Piotr Zielinski just before the break in front of a crowd of nearly 60,000 in northern Italy.

Conte sent on Cristian Eriksen after 65 minutes and the Dane threatened but David Ospina held firm in the Napoli goal.

Napoli, who last won the trophy in 2014, now take a slim advantage into the second leg at their Stadio San Paolo on March 5.

Record 18-time winners Juventus take on AC Milan in the other semi-final on Thursday, again in the San Siro.

The match will be the first clash in Italy between Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo and Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The final will take place in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on 13 May.

Meanwhile Paris Saint-Germain cruised into the semi-finals of the French Cup after thumping Dijon 6-1 in a match that saw the French champions benefit again from comical own goals.

PSG were ahead just 47 seconds after kick off thanks to Wesley Lautoa shanking Mitchel Bakker’s low cross into his own net to the bemusement of his teammates.

It was the second own goal in a week to be scored for PSG, who also saw Lyon’s Fernando Marcal slam a stunning effort past his own goalkeeper at the weekend.

However the hosts were level in the 13th minute thanks to a impressive low curling effort from Mounir Chouiar, which squeezed past Kaylor Navas.

While the away side were far from full strength, with Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi on the bench and Neymar not even in the squad, Thomas Tuchel’s team did include Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, who was making his first start in over a month after nearly moving to Atletico Madrid in January.

The Uruguayan was left waiting his 200th goal for the club in the 21st minute when he turned home Thomas Meunier’s cross, only for the strike to be ruled out for handball by the Belgian after a VAR check.

“It’s not that bad because he can score his 200th goal on Saturday (against Amiens) or Tuesday (against Borussia Dortmund). I can feel he’s there,” said Tuchel.

On the match, he added: “I’m happy because we deserved the victory. It’s a huge performance.”

Mbappe put PSG ahead a minute before the break, punishing Jhonder Cadiz’s miss when clean through seconds before by clinically slotting home a similar chance.

Thiago Silva added a third four minutes after the break with a header from a corner before Pablo Sarabia ended Dijon’s resistance by pushing home his 11th of the season on the rebound.

Senou Coulibaly watched on in horror with five minutes left when Mbappe’s cross looped off his thigh over helpless stopper Runar Alex Runarsson, before Sarabia tapped home his second in stoppage time from another Mbappe centre.

Later, Lyon coach Rudi Garcia knocked his former side Marseille out as Houssem Aouar scored an 81st minute winner.

On Thursday, fourth division side Epinal — last 16 conquerers of Lille — will look to continue their stunning cup run going when they host Saint-Etienne.

They will try to succeed where fellow fourth-tier outfit Belfort failed following their 3-0 defeat to holder Rennes on Tuesday.

Elsewhere tonight Athletic Bilbao defeated Granada 1-0 in the Copa Del Rey in Spain and Ajax ran out 3-0 winners in the KNVB Beker in the Netherlands against Vitesse.

© – AFP 2020  

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