Coppa Italia: Juventus 2 AC Milan 1
By Football News
Juventus needed extra-time to defeat AC Milan 2-1 at home on Wednesday and reach the Coppa Italia semi-finals.
Hosts Juve fell behind early to Stephan El Shaarawy's strike, but levelled through Sebastian Giovinco, before Mirko Vucinic decided the game in extra-time.
The crowd at Juventus Stadium was treated to a frenetic start to the quarter-final clash, as both teams pushed forward in search of an early opener.
Massimo Ambrosini was the first man to take aim at goal, his early snapshot pushed over the bar by Marco Storari with barely two minutes on the clock. It was a warning for Juve, and one the home team failed to heed as they fell moments later.
Kevin-Prince Boateng stretched the home defence with a storming run down the left flank, and did enough to turn in a low cross from the by-line.
Giampaolo Pazzini was intelligent enough to let the ball run, and it was El Shaarawy who took full advantage, as the Serie A top-scorer curled a well-taken effort past the flailing Storari and into the corner of the net.
Milan's attacking prowess could not hide certain deficiencies at the back, however - Alessandro Matri had a golden opportunity to level proceedings after connecting with a cross from Sebastian Giovinco, but the unmarked striker nodded wide.
Fortunately for the hosts, that miss was a minor blip on their way to an equaliser.
Francesco Acerbi was the villain for Milan; having given away possession, he compounded his error by felling Matri on the edge of the area. A marvellous free-kick from Giovinco gave Marco Amelia no chance, and with just 12 minutes played Juve were back on level terms at 1-1.
The game continued in the same open, high-octane fashion after the interval, but with neither side capable of forcing the decisive breakthrough.
As extra-time loomed both teams appeared to lower their tempo, playing more cautiously in anticipation of either an additional 30 minutes, or a decisive strike coming on the counter.
In contrast to the long deadlock in regulation play, it took Juve just six minutes of extra-time to gain the lead for the first time.
Emanuele Giaccherini did well with a tireless run to spearhead the break, and his deep pass rebounded into the path of Vucinic, who made no mistake in finishing from close range.
Milan attacked desperately in search of a way back into the match, but were frustrated in their onslaught by a determined backline and the impressive Storari as they bid farewell to the Coppa Italia.
The victory booked Juve's place as the second team into the semi-finals along with Lazio, who entered the last four thanks to a dominant 3-0 victory over Catania.