Holder Juventus beat Milan 2-1 to reach Italian Cup semis
TURIN: In a rematch of last year's final, Italian Cup holder Juventus beat 10-man AC Milan 2-1 in the quarter-finals on Wednesday to avenge its more recent defeats to Vincenzo Montella's side.
Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic scored for Juventus in the first half to leave Massimiliano Allegri's side on course for a third successive league and cup double.
Juventus used the same 4-2-3-1 formation which had beaten Lazio 2-0 on Sunday, with all its stellar attackers.
"It's not a given that we'll always play like this," Allegri said. 'We could change. What's important is our attitude. The team had a good match for 65 minutes, then we had a bit of difficulty and gave Milan a good chance."
Carlos Bacca reduced the deficit shortly after halftime but Manuel Locatelli was sent off moments later following a second booking. Despite its numerical disadvantage, Milan — as it has often done this season — played better in the second half but couldn't find the equaliser.
"Credit to Juventus who scored with two great moves, they were very good in the first half and we weren't very fast because we couldn't find the space," Montella said. "But great credit to the lads for always believing in the comeback. We were very close, even with 10 men."
Juventus, which leads Serie A by four points, will face Napoli in the semi-finals over two legs after the southern side beat Fiorentina 1-0 on Tuesday.
Milan had beaten Juventus 1-0 in the league this season and also defeated it on penalties to win the Italian Super Cup last month.
"All the three matches were very equal, that is already a source of pride," Montella added. "That should give us extra conviction to believe in ourselves and go forward like this."
There is an Italian proverb "non c'e due senza tre" — things happen in threes — and Milan were hoping to prove it right.
However, Juventus, which beat Milan 1-0 in the final last year, was aggressive from the outset and took the lead in the 10th minute, with its first attempt on goal.
Kwadwo Asamoah's cross was flicked on by Juan Cuadrado for an unmarked Dybala to volley in from 10 yards (meters).
Juventus was dominating and doubled its lead 11 minutes later when Asamoah was tripped by Juraj Kucka just outside the area and Pjanic curled the resulting free kick into the top left corner.
Juventus had the ball in the back of the net a third time shortly before the half hour, but Sami Khedira was offside when he tapped in the rebound after Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had parried Gonzalo Higuain's effort.
Milan finally threatened on the stroke of halftime but Bacca and Andrea Bertolacci collided with each other as they went for Suso's ball.
Milan got back into the match eight minutes after the break with a stunning shot. Bacca had his back to goal but managed to hook a volley into the left side of the net.
However, just seconds later, Milan was reduced to 10 men and Juventus almost took immediate advantage of its numerical superiority but Mario Mandzukic sent two efforts narrowly wide of the right upright in quick succession.
Milan went close to the equaliser in the 70th when Kucka's free kick stung the gloves of Juventus goalkeeper Norberto Neto.
Donnarumma was also forced into a flying fingertip save to deny Pjanic late on.
Gerard Deulofeu, who joined Milan on loan from Everton on Monday, was brought on for the final 10 minutes and tested Neto - as well as Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci.