AC Milan advanced to the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Genoa after extra time at the San Siro.
Andriy Shevchenko’s Genoa side took a shock lead with 17 minutes on the clock as Leo Ostigard rose highest to send a bullet header past Mike Maignan at the back post from Manolo Portanova’s cross.
The Rosseblu looked good value for their lead up until half-time, but Milan turned up the gears in the second half and eventually found an equaliser courtesy of Olivier Giroud, who sent a towering header into the back of the net with fifteen minutes left to play.
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Milan tried desperately to nick a winner in the dying embers of the game, but the two sides were deadlocked after ninety minutes.
The Rossoneri eventually went ahead at the end of the first period of extra time, with Rafael Leao’s chipped cross-turned-shot sailing over Adrian Semper and into the net off the frame of the goal.
Stefano Pioli’s men sealed their passage into the quarter finals with eight minutes left as Alexis Saelemaekers stroked home the ball from inside the box following a great driving run by Theo Hernandez in the build-up.
TALKING POINT - Milan's substitutes do the business
With AC Milan going into half-time 1-0 down to Genoa - who were arguably the better side until that point - changes needed to be made to turn the cup tie around in the Rossoneri's favour, and Stefano Pioli's substitutes did the trick, which gives him a lot of credit in the bank.
Rafael Leao, who was introduced in the 62nd minute, caused havoc on the right from the moment he came on, and will definitely have given Genoa's Silvan Hefti a sleepless night. The Portuguese attacker eventually found Milan's second goal in extra-time, and despite the finish being on the fortunate side, it was no less than he deserved.
Alexis Saelemakers, who came on in the 80th minute, also chipped in with Milan's third goal, and Brahim Diaz provided the assist for Milan's second.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH - Rafael Leao
As mentioned above, for the difference he made on the outcome of the game, the 22-year-old is deserving of the player of the match accolade.
In addition to his goal, the Portuguese attacker had two shots on target, made countless attacking progressive runs from out wide, and added more dynamism in attack for the Rossoneri - a complete game-changer in every sense of the word.
AC Milan: Maignan 6, Tomori 6, Gabbia 7, Kalulu 7, Hernandez 8, Rebic 6, Maldini 7, Messias 7, Krunic 6, Tonali 7, Giroud 8. Subs: Leao 8, Brahim 7, Roback 6, Saelemaekers 7, Florenzi 6.
Genoa: Semper 7, Vasquez 6, Ostigard 8, Vanheusden 7, Melegoni 6, Yeboah 6, Portanova 7, Badelj 6, Hefti 6, Ekuban 6, Caicedo 7. Subs: Destro 6, Pandev 6, Cassata 6, Ghiglione 6, Bani 6.
6’ - OFF THE BAR! Krunic rises highest to nod Hernandez's corner - the ball crashes against the top of the bar and goes out for a goal kick to Genoa!
17’ - GOAL! - Genoa have the lead! It's Leo Ostigard who gets on the scoresheet! It comes against the run of play - Portanova whips in a corner aimed for the back post, and Ostigaard rises highest over Hernandez to fire in a bullet header past Mike Maignan!
74’ - GOAL! - Olivier Giroud is back on the scoresheet for the Rossoneri! Hernandez' cross is superb and right on the money, and Giroud does what he does best and out-jumps Vanheusden to fire in a header past a helpless Semper in the Genoa goal.
102’ - GOAL! - Milan lead for the first time in the match! It's that man Rafael Leao who has done it - he has been sensational since coming on in the second half. Did he mean it? He won't care. The attacker drives to the byline and chips in a cross, but it goes over Semper and into the back of the net via the post!
- Theo Hernández is the first Serie A defender to reach double figures for goal involvements this season in all competitions (four goals, six assists).
- AC Milan (11) and Genoa (9) have gone to extra time the most times in the Coppa Italia, since 2011/2012 onwards.
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