As hard-fought a victory as you are ever likely to see. AC Milan beat Genoa 3-1 after extra time in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 and are through to the next round of Italy's primary national cup competition. It was tough going at San Siro - due also to the poor condition of the pitch - but the Rossoneri pulled through thanks to goals from Giroud, Leão and Saelemaekers. The Rossoneri came up against more obstacles than predicted and Østigård's first-half opener complicated the matter but our boys never gave up and equalised through Giroud as the second half of normal time drew to a close. Only then did the outlook of the match change and Pioli's side pressed hard in extra time, taking the lead through Leão and finishing off the match with a Saelemaekers goal.
It wasn't the best performance of the season by any stretch of the imagination but with a packed schedule and a squad depleted by injury, all that matters is the result. The positives were hunger, sacrifice and heart. Noteworthy were the injury to Tomori and a debut for Roback. The Diavolo have thus knocked out Shevchenko's Rossoblù - the Grifone's coach was applauded by the fans at San Siro - and are through to the quarter-finals, where they will take on the winner of Lazio v Udinese. The focus will now shift back to league football as the Rossoneri host Spezia on Serie A matchday 22.
CHECK OUT THE GALLERY FROM AC MILAN v GENOA
Tomori and Rebić returned to the starting XI, as did Maldini. And it was young Daniel who had the first chance of the game, though his shot in the third minute was blocked by Østigård. A few seconds later, after a corner, Krunić's attempt struck the crossbar. Another chance fell the way of the Rossoneri in the twelfth minute: Messias got a touch on Rebić's ball in but it went just over the crossbar. Genoa then got on the front foot and, in the 16th minute, threatened through Vanheusden, whose effort was smothered by Maignan. From the ensuing corner, however, disaster struck as Østigård rose highest to hear it home. AC Milan were a goal down and the bad news kept rolling in: Tomori was forced off with a knee injury (24'). Two minutes later, Yeboah got to the ball ahead of Maignan but couldn't direct his header on target. Tonali and Gabbia both had a go around the half-hour mark but both fired wide. Danger in the 41st minute: Portanova blazed wide from very close range.
It was a cagey affair to start the second half. In the 47th minute, Portanova missed a good chance before goalkeeper Šemper saved the guests at the other end following a mix-up in the box. Pioli made a triple substitution on the hour mark, sending on Leão, Díaz and Bakayoko. Yet the Rossoneri struggled to kick up a gear in attack, only forcing one clear cut chance: Messias fired over the bar. It took until the 74th minute for AC Milan to bring themselves on level terms: Hernández whipped in the ball and Giroud produced a splendid looping header to beat Šemper. Olivier was brimming with confidence and almost produced another goal three minutes later: wide. Florenzi's late effort didn't settle the game and it was on to extra time.
The Diavolo had all of the momentum and pushed for the winner. In the 93rd minute, Leão forced a good save from Šemper before Tonali sent his long-range effort just wide (95') and Hernández sent his shot over the bar (99'). The key moment came in the 102nd minute: Leão's attempted cross turned into the perfect chip as it went sailing over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. A short break gave way for chances for Østigård and Díaz before the Rossoneri wrapped it up in the 112th minute: Tonali won the ball back, Hernández made the killer pass and Saelemaekers finished off the move. Full time.
AC MILAN 3-1 (a.e.t) GENOA
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori (24' Florenzi), Hernández; Tonali, Krunić (62' Bakayoko); Messias (80' Saelemaekers), Maldini (62' Díaz), Rebić (62' Leão); Giroud (118' Roback). Subs: Mirante, Nava; Stanga. Coach: Pioli.
GENOA (4-3-2-1): Šemper; Hefti, Vanheusden, Østigård (111' Bani), Vásquez; Portanova (106' Ghiglione), Badelj, Melegoni; Ekuban (71' Cassata), Yeboah (87' Pandev); Caicedo (63' Destro). Subs: Marchetti, Sirigu; Masiello; Galdames, Sturaro, Touré; Buksa. Coach: Shevchenko.
Referee: Aureliano from Bologna.
Goals: 17' Østigård (G), 74' Giroud (M), 102' Leão (M), 112' Saelemaekers (M).
Booked: 36' Badelj (G), 47' Yeboah (G), 53' Østigård (G), 64' Hefti (G), 115' Saelemaekers (M).
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