Inter were taken to extra time by Fiorentina but once again eliminated Viola from Coppa Italia thanks to the header of Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku started off the bench ahead of the Derby d’Italia on Sunday against Juventus but was called up in the second half after Christian Kouame canceled Arturo Vidal’s first penalty.
There was no immediate impact as the Nerazzurri sought to get their season back on track, having taken just one point compared to their previous two. series A matches.
Still, Lukaku made his mark in extra time at Artemio Franchi, nudging a header past Pietro Terracciano to secure Inter’s place in the quarter-finals.
It was a tame affair until a frantic end of the first half when Christian Eriksen’s shot was knocked down by Terracciano, who knocked down Alexis Sanchez as the follow-up squirmed past the goalkeeper and against the pole.
A kick was granted only after referee Davide Massa consulted with the field monitor, but Vidal took full advantage.
Massa was quickly called back to the screen to correct a stray second call, this time initially giving a foul against Milan Skriniar for a timely tackle on Kouame in the area.
There was no respite for Inter when Kouame controlled a poor clearance and hit the upper right corner three minutes before the hour mark, however.
Lautaro Martinez had remarkably exploded ahead of this strike and Sanchez was the next visiting star to pass up a big opportunity as he failed to turn Ivan Perisic’s cross.
Routine saves at either end carried the game into overtime, where another Perisic cross deflected over the crossbar and Sanchez again lost his head nodding directly at Terracciano.
Fiorentina appeared to have reached a shootout when Terracciano blocked Lukaku, but the striker resolutely made amends with a second header to settle the tie.