Milan eventually ran out 3-0 winners with Mbaye Niang’s first goal for the club, but they found it harder than expected to end Reggina’s Coppa Italia dream.
The winner of this fixture goes on to face Juventus in the Quarter-Finals, so Massimiliano Allegri fielded a new trident attack, plus Luca Antonini and Rodney Strasser returning from injury. Reggina Coach Davide Dionigi and players Rodrigo Ely and Davide Facchin were all in the Milan youth academy.
The Serie B minnows eliminated Chievo in the last round and it took until the 15th minute for Facchin to be tested by Giampaolo Pazzini’s angled drive under a smattering of snow.
Reggina also threatened with Alessio Campagnacci blasting over relatively undisturbed. They did have the ball in the net when a free kick was volleyed in off the underside of the bar by Francesco Bombagi, but he was caught offside.
Facchin got down quickly to palm a Mario Yepes header off the line and smothered another Pazzini aerial effort.
The Rossoneri came out fighting for the second half and quickly took the lead. First Robinho’s attempt from a corner was cleared off the line, then as the move continued Yepes nodded into the top corner from an Urby Emanuelson cross.
Substitute Mbaye Niang shrugged off a challenge to force a save from Facchin and the goalkeeper was quick to smother at the feet of both Bojan Krkic and Emanuelson.
Facchin beat away an Ignazio Abate shot and needed a fine save to deny Pazzini’s volley. Bojan cut in for a strike deflected on to the side-netting. Sulley Ali Muntari made his comeback for the final 14 minutes, having snapped knee ligaments while playing beach soccer with friends over the summer.
Niang put qualification beyond doubt with his first goal in a Milan jersey. Emanuelson won back possession and rolled across the box for the teenage Frenchman kept his cool to sweep it past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Milan added a third goal moments later, as Pazzini gathered a Bojan through ball and smashed under the bar, though he did appear to be offside.
Facchin denied Emanuelson a fourth in the final minute and the 25-year-old goalkeeper certainly impressed his former club at San Siro.
Milan 3-0 Reggina
Scorers: Yepes 51 (M), Niang 79 (M), Pazzini 81 (M)
Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Yepes (Acerbi 85), Antonini; Flamini, Strasser (Muntari 77), Emanuelson; Bojan, Pazzini, Robinho (Niang 54)
Reggina: Facchin; Freddi, Ely, Bergamelli (Di Bari 83); D’Alessandro, Rizzo, Castiglia, Bombagi, Rizzato; Fischnaller (Hetemaj 74), Campagnacci (Barilla’ 65)