19.01.2022 23:41 h

Inter hold off spirited Empoli to reach Italian Cup quarters

Inter Milan reached the quarter-finals of the Italian Cup on Wednesday after a 3-2 extra-time win over an Empoli team who were seconds away from making the last eight.

Simone Inzaghi's side will face either Roma or Lecce, who round off the last 16 fixtures at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday, after an entertaining match at the San Siro.

Already winners at both Juventus and Napoli since coming up from Serie B, Empoli came back from going behind to Alexis Sanchez's early header to lead with seconds remaining of normal time through Nedim Bajrami's precise finish and an own goal from young Inter goalkeeper Ionut Radu.

However, Andrea Ranocchia sent the tie into extra-time when he smashed home an unlikely bicycle kick in stoppage time, and Sanchez thought he had snatched a dramatic late win shortly after, only for his tap-in to be ruled out for offside.

Stefano Sensi eventually crashed the hosts back ahead with a powerful drive in the 104th minute which finally settled the match in Inter's favour.

It was a bittersweet moment for Sensi, who was not even supposed to be in the Inter squad for the match as he is set to be loaned to struggling Sampdoria.

The 26-year-old has barely featured this season for the champions, who lead Serie A and are in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Sassuolo will play Juventus in their first ever Italian Cup quarter-final after beating Cagliari 1-0 in Wednesday's early match.

Abdou Harroui's well-placed volley in the 18th minute was enough for Alessio Dionisi's side to reach the last eight, a landmark for a team which was for a long time a minnow in Italy but has become a Serie A fixture over the last decade.