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Football

Totti strike sends Roma into final


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Totti's goal sealed Roma's place against Inter in the Italian Cup final

MILAN, Italy -- A late goal from Francesco Totti took Roma into the final of the Italian Cup after a 2-1 win over Udinese.

Brazilian Mancini put Roma ahead with a header but Antonio Di Natale levelled for Udinese from close range.

The game looked to be heading into extra-time when Mancini was brought down by Udinese's Slovenian keeper Samir Handanovic.

Handanovic parried Totti's penalty but the Roma captain pounced on the loose ball to score.

Roma will play Inter Milan in the two-legged final, which takes place on June 2 and June 15.

In reaching the final, Roma also claimed a place in the UEFA Cup next season as Inter have already qualified for the Champions League after making sure of third place in the league.

Udinese are tied with Sampdoria for fourth place in Serie A with two games left to play and should they fail to claim the final Champions League spot they will join Roma in the UEFA Cup.

Roma, who are just three points above the relegation zone, took the lead in the 21st minute. Pinned to the left-hand touchline, Leandro Cufre drilled the ball into the penalty box for Mancini to chase and the nimble-footed Brazilian's flicked header looped over Handanovic.

Udinese came close to equalising four minutes later, but Roma's 19-year-old keeper Gianluca Curci pulled off a superb double save to first deny Dino Fava and then Mirko Pieri.

The home side maintained the momentum and they levelled the score 12 minutes into the second half courtesy of a curling right-footed strike from Di Natale.

Within a minute, Roma had two chances in quick succession to restore their advantage, but Antonio Cassano's goalbound shot was deflected wide and from the resulting corner Matteo Ferrari's header sailed inches past the post.

Roma continued to look dangerous on the break and a lightning raid produced the winning goal in the 81st minute.

Mancini was sent tumbling in the box and although Totti's weak spot-kick was palmed away by Handanovic, Roma's talismanic captain gobbled up the loose ball.

On Wednesday, injury-prone Italy international Christian Vieri scored twice as Inter Milan defeated Cagliari 3-1 at the San Siro for a 4-2 aggregate victory.


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