ROME, May 9 (Reuters) - AS Roma scored four goals in the first half hour to beat holders Inter Milan 6-2 in an extraordinary first leg of the Italian Cup final on Wednesday.

Captain Francesco Totti, whose team now take a healthy lead into next Thursday's second leg at the San Siro, gave the home side a dream start when he slammed in Rodrigo Taddei's pullback in the first minute.

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Roma, who lost to Inter in the last two finals, were desperate to avoid a third straight defeat and quickly doubled their lead when Daniele de Rossi diverted a volley from Philippe Mexes into the net on five minutes.

Simone Perrotta made it 3-0 after sliding in to convert Cristian Chivu's low cross, which completely outwitted a dormant Inter defence.

The match had been brought forward to an early evening kickoff because of fears of crowd trouble and league champions Inter finally woke up when Hernan Crespo took advantage of a defensive error to round goalkeeper Doni to make it 3-1.

Last month Roma inflicted Inter's only league defeat this season and they took a big step towards thwarting a second successive league and cup double for Roberto Mancini's side when namesake Mancini rattled in the home side's fourth.

The Brazilian netted on the half hour after Inter keeper Francesco Toldo, preferred to usual number one Julio Cesar, could only palm away Christian Panucci's tempting cross.

UNUSUALLY OPEN

Inter, without injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and defender Walter Samuel, nearly scrambled the ball home to reduce the deficit late in the first period but Adriano could not finish as he continues to look a shadow of his former self.

The unusually open Italian final refused to revert to type in the second half with both defences leaving wide open spaces at the back.

Roma's raiding right back Panucci made it 5-1 on 54 minutes before Crespo hit back almost immediately when he nodded home Maicon's perfectly-flighted cross from a quick break.

Panucci was not finished though and netted from an acute angle late on to complete a memorable victory.

"We made a terrible start to the match and they started very well," Inter coach Mancini told RAI television. "Roma probably had more incentive than us. We have a match to play and we will see what we can do. We need a miracle."

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said in the run-up to the game that he would rather the final was played over 90 minutes and the Italian soccer authorities may look into his suggestion after such an entertaining first leg.

Inter and Roma, assured of second spot in Serie A, have dominated Italian football this season after Juventus were relegated and AC Milan deducted eight points for their parts in a match-fixing scandal.

Many have criticised the league for a lack of excitement this term but the two sides served up a superb feast to silence the detractors.