Roma set eyes on cup final after victory over Udinese


Rome : Roma took a step towards securing the Italian Cup final Thursday through a 2-0 win over guests Udinese in a first-leg semi-final.

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Montenegro’s Mirko Vucinic and Frenchman Philippe Mexes scored first-half goals to seal a convincing win at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

Coach Claudio Ranieri pulled no punches and fielded his best men, including the recovering Francesco Totti, but with the exception of the injured Luca Toni, as Roma look to win a record-setting 10th cup.

Their lead on 12 minutes stemmed from a long, precise assist from Daniele De Rossi to set up Vucinic for a counter attack that the Montenegrin topped with a low flick to the left of Slovenian Samir Handanovic.

Roma held control in midfield and ran minor risks as Udinese strikers Antonio Di Natale and Antonio Floro Flores had no chances to worry Brazil custodian Alexander Doni.

Despite struggling in the home league’s lower reaches, Udinese stunned AC Milan 1-0 in the quarter-finals, but failed to reply to the good game played at the Giuseppe Meazza last week.

As on the first goal, their defence was not reactive enough on 40 minutes as they allowed Mexes to soar undisturbed and smash down a header off a free kick from Chile’s David Pizarro.

Pizarro’s compatriot Alex Sanchez missed Udinese’s first chance shortly before half-time as he saw his drive roll wide after crossing the goal mouth.

Di Natale, the Serie A joint-top striker on 13 goals next to Inter Milan’s Argentine Diego Milito, displayed poor form also in the second half, but on 63 minutes provided an assist for Sanchez, who failed to beat the onrushing Doni.

Inter Milan beat visiting Fiorentina 1-0 in the other first-leg semi on Wednesday. Second-leg games are set for April 14, while the final will be played in Rome on May 5.