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10 Jan 2013

Vucinic sinks Milan in extra-time

The Montenegrin separates the sides to set up a mouthwatering semi-final clash with Lazio

For the second season in a row, Juventus and Milan couldn’t be separated over 90 minutes and once again Antonio Conte’s men came out on top thanks to a Mirko Vucinic goal early in extra-time.

Milan had the better of the opening exchanges, the skipper Ambrosini had a shot well tipped over by Storari. Shortly after, Juventus were exposed on the right side of defence and Boateng squared the ball back into the path of the in-form El Shaarawy, who powered it into the bottom corner with just six minutes on the clock.

However, the Bianconeri responded strongly. Matri saw his header flash just wide of the post and then Acerbi was forced to concede a free-kick in dangerous territory. Giovinco stepped up to take and he curved it beautifully into the top left corner to bring Juventus back on terms after 12 minutes.

Milan continued to give away free-kicks in inviting positions and Giovinco nearly put Juventus in front when his third set piece of the night was heading for the same top corner, only to be denied by the outstretched fingertips of Amelia.

On the 32 minute mark, Juventus had their best chance from open play in the first half when Giovinco flashed wide of the post after pouncing well on a defensive slip up from Acerbi.

However, against the run of play, Juventus experienced a nervy moment in defence late on in the half when El Shaarawy almost capitalised on Storari’s wayward clearance.

While the Bianconeri had the better of the second half, it was a cagier affair with few clear cut chances. The hosts nearly broke through when Giovinco threaded a well timed pass to find Lichtsteiner’s run behind the Milan defence.

Despite the two managers’ best efforts to open up the game with positive substitutions, which included the introduction of the recovering Vucinic, the affair seemed destined for extra-time.

Just as last year, Juve went ahead in extra-time when Giaccherini’s raking pass was prodded into the path of Vucinic by De Ceglie, with the Montenegrin guiding the ball past the advancing Amelia.

For much of extra-time it seemed like Juve would coast to victory with Milan looking beaten. The hosts missed a couple of great chances to put the game to bed, Isla was denied from point blank range and Giaccherini miscontrolled at the vital moment after an exquisite pass from Vucinic.

The dying stages were not without anxious moments for the Bianconeri defence who at times struggled against the youthful attacking trio of Niang, Bojan and El Shaarawy. There were good opportunities for both Niang and El Shaarawy before Milan’s best chance fell to Traore, with Juventus happy to see his volley struck straight at a grateful Storari.

This victory sets Conte's men up with a two legged semi-final against Lazio, with the first encounter to be played in Rome on 22 January.


GOALS: El Shaarawy 6, Giovinco 12, Vucinic 95

Storari; Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres; Lichtsteiner (De Ceglie 84), Vidal, Marrone (Pirlo 77), Giaccherini, Isla; Matri, Giovinco (Vucinic 65).
Substitutes not used: Buffon, Branescu, Rugani, Peluso, Pogba, Padoin, Beltrame.

Manager: Conte.

Amelia; Abate, Mexes, Acerbi, De Sciglio; Montolivo, Ambrosini (Traorè 90+1), Boateng; Emanuelson (Bojan 71), Pazzini (Niang 71), El Shaarawy. 

Substitutes not used: Gabriel, Coppola, Antonini, Flamini, Nocerino, Carmona.
Manager: Allegri.

REFEREE: Mazzoleni

ASSISTANTS: Niccolai, Grilli


BOOKINGS: Mexes 17, Boateng 30, Vidal 65, Montolivo 101, Vucinic 113