Unbeaten Serie A leaders Inter required penalties to see off Pordenone at San Siro on Tuesday, triumphing 5-4 in a shoot-out following a goalless draw after extra time in Milan.
Daniele Padelli and Yuto Nagatomo were the heroes from the spot for Inter, who had the former to thank in the first half as the stand-in goalkeeper turned Simone Magnaghi’s shot onto the woodwork.
“The players who have played less found it difficult tonight, because Pordenone had quality in the middle of the park,” Spalletti told Rai.
“We couldn’t take control of the ball to play, we felt challenged instead of everyone dealing with their various roles, and then from a psychological point of view everything became more difficult because they became fired-up with the passage of time.
“I’ve been through their situation many times and I know the psychological effect it has.
“The difference [in quality] was there on the pitch and maybe I didn’t do my job well because we were below our potential, maybe the alert didn’t arrive as it should have.
“In the second half we were better, in extra-time too when they parked the bus and defended really well.
“In some situations we were unlucky, but they were too since they hit the post. At the end I saw the posts again, I was losing confidence!
“It was a really tough qualification, the ball becomes heavy for everyone on penalties. I congratulate these players, because they deserve it.
“Pordenone would have deserved it if they’d have gone through though, [Daniele] Padelli did well on the penalties.”