Milan fought back from a Djibril Cissè volley to beat Lazio 3-1 and set up an exciting Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus.
An injury crisis ruled out Christian Abbiati, Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alberto Aquilani, Gennaro Gattuso, Antonio Cassano and Mathieu Flamini, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were rested. Stephan El Shaarawy and Alexander Merkel got rare chances to shine, while Djamel Mesbah had his first start since last week’s move from Lecce. Lazio switched to a new three-man defence, as Stefan Radu, Stefano Mauri, Libor Kozak, Emiliano Alfaro, Lorik Cana and Cristian Brocchi were injured.
Djibril Cissè had not scored since the opening round of the Serie A season in this stadium, a 2-2 September draw with Milan, and clearly he is inspired by this fixture. Within five minutes he had given Lazio the lead with a fine volley on the Alvaro Gonzalez cross from the right, ending the longest goal drought of his career, but was given acres of space through the middle of the Milan defence.
Senad Lulic burst between Merkel and Ignazio Abate for his shot to bounce off Marco Amelia’s chest.
However, the Rossoneri equalised when Merkel nodded Abate’s cross into the air, but it dropped beautifully for an unstoppable Robinho volley under the bar.
Milan suddenly turned the game around completely moments later, going from 0-1 to 2-1 in under three minutes. El Shaarawy was instrumental with a delightful backheel flick to send the pass between two defenders, as Clarence Seedorf kept his cool to drive a powerful finish over Federico Marchetti.
It should’ve been 2-2 at the 22nd minute, but Amelia somehow got down in time to fingertip a Gonzalez free header off the line. Robinho pounced on a defensive error to go round Marchetti, but had narrowed the angle too much and only hit the side-netting. The Brazilian was also halted in a promising move by a very tight offside decision.
Cissè had plenty of space again, but this time the volley was well wide of the target. Amelia flew to palm a splendid Hernanes free kick out of the far top corner, then Cissè turned the corner on to the side-netting. At the other end, Merkel just failed to make contact with Seedorf’s pass over the top.
Cristian Ledesma came on for the second half to shelve the three-man defence and El Shaarawy lost a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge with Abdoullay Konko. Seedorf shook off one challenge, but was well tackled in the box before he could pull the trigger.
Andre Dias was remarkably lucky not to get sent off and give away a penalty when he was caught on camera punching Mark Van Bommel in the back of the head as a corner was whipped in. Neither the referee nor assistant saw the incident, so video evidence could well be used against Dias.
El Shaarawy volleyed over from just inside the area and substitute Miroslav Klose’s header was off target. Merkel sprained his knee, so made way for Ibrahimovic. Amelia pushed a Cissè screamer out from under the bar and El Shaarawy held off two defenders only to prod the finish just wide of the upright.
Lazio pushed forward in the closing stages, but this just left space for Ibrahimovic to spring the offside trap from Urby Emanuelson’s through ball and pass it round Marchetti in a one-on-one. Replays suggest the Swede might’ve been just offside.
Milan 3-1 Lazio
Scorers: Cissè 5 (L), Robinho 15 (M), Seedorf 18 (M), Ibrahimovic 84 (M)
Milan: Amelia; Abate, Mexes, Bonera, Mesbah; Merkel (Ibrahimovic 69), Van Bommel, Nocerino; Seedorf (Emanuelson 74);Robinho (Calvano 89), El Shaarawy
Lazio: Marchetti; Diakitè (Ledesma 46), Stankevicius, Dias;Konko, Gonzalez, Matuzalem (Del Nero 77), Lulic; Hernanes;Cissè, Rocchi (Klose 63)