International

Mancini hails Shaqiri 'class'

2015-01-22 12:58
Xherdan Shaqiri (Getty Images)
Xherdan Shaqiri (Getty Images)

Milan - Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini hailed the "class" of Xherdan Shaqiri after the Swiss international scored his maiden goal on his full debut to help seal a place in the Italian Cup quarter-final with a 2-0 win over depleted Sampdoria.

Sampdoria were reduced to 10 men on 11 minutes when Nenad Krsticic saw a straight red card but Inter striker Mauro Icardi missed a first-half penalty minutes before half-time.

Shaqiri gave Roberto Mancini's men a 71st minute lead with his maiden Inter goal on his first start since joining the club on a four-and-a-half-year deal from Bayern Munich.

After Samp saw Pawel Wszolek sent off for a second bookable offence on 77 minutes, Icardi sealed the win two minutes from time to set up a quarter-final tie with either Napoli or Udinese, who play their last 16 tie later Thursday.

Mancini was quick to praise the positive impact of both Swiss international Shaqiri and former Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski but believes a "more compact" Inter can do more damage.

"Shaqiri's class and personality was clear for all to see. I'm happy that he and Podolski had such a good game," said Mancini.

"I think we can do even better though. Once the team is more compact they'll be able to play with even more quality."

Icardi, who earlier this week celebrated the birth of his first child, Francesca, admitted Shaqiri and Podolski are welcome additions to the club.

"They're both top-quality players. Hopefully we can go a long way with their help," said the Argentinian.

Mancini's side are one of a possible seven teams aiming to finish at least third in Serie A and claim the league's third and last Champions League qualifying spot.

Inter currently sit ninth, 20 points behind leaders and champions Juventus but only seven behind Napoli and Sampdoria, who share third place.

The second half of the Serie A season begins this weekend with Inter hosting Torino, while city rivals Milan, struggling in eighth place also 20 points behind Juve, face a tough away encounter at Lazio.

In Cup competition Milan will also host Lazio in the quarter-finals next week, when league strugglers Parma host Juventus in a bid to make the competition's last four. Roma host Fiorentina on February 3 while Inter host either Napoli or Udinese a day later.

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