The Gaza Post|The News of Palestine-Rome
AC Milan’s unbeaten streak in all competitions reached 13 matches with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Lazio on Wednesday to advance to the Italian Cup final against Juventus.
After Lazio’s Luiz Felipe Ramos placed his penalty attempt high over the bar, Milan center back Alessio Romagnoli _ who grew up as a Lazio fan _ calmly drilled his decisive shot into the left corner to seal the win. The game ended 0-0 after extra time, following a scoreless first leg as well.
Earlier, Juventus beat visiting Atalanta 1-0 to advance 2-0 on aggregate.
It was Milan’s second win in four days at the Stadio Olimpico after beating Roma 2-0 in Serie A on Sunday. Up next for Gennaro Gattuso’s squad: the Milan derby then a Europa League quarterfinal against Arsenal. Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and Lazio counterpart Thomas Strakosha each made two saves early in the shootout.
Earlier in the match, the 19-year-old Donnarumma showed his lack of experience when he miscalculated a long ball and let Ciro Immobile run onto it inside the area. The Lazio striker pulled the ball back from the endline and nearly scored from an almost impossible angle.
Otherwise, Donnarumma was on form, leaping to turn away a header from Immobile early on then blocking another effort from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Strakosha also had a strong performance, denying a splendid effort from Suso in the first half.
Milan striker Nikola Kalinic wasted a golden chance to finish off a swift counterattack in the second period of extra time.
“Lazio is a very strong team. It’s no wonder that they’ve scored so many goals against everyone this season,” Gattuso said. “We could have conceded a goal but we could have also scored.”
Four Straight Finals
Miralem Pjanic scored a controversial penalty as Juventus reached its fourth straight final. It appeared that Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi was only slightly touched from behind by Gianluca Mancini while attempting to meet a cross in the 74th. But the referee’s decision was confirmed by the VAR and Pjanic converted into the center of the net as goalkeeper Etrit Berisha leaped to his right.
Juventus advanced 2-0 on aggregate following Gonzalo Higuain’s goal in the first leg. Higuain sat out the second leg due to a minor injury. Juventus has won the Italian Cup a record 12 times, including the last three years.
“We have to compliment the lads for what they did tonight and are doing this season,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Our aim was to reach March and still be in all three tournaments.”
Juventus drew 2-2 with Tottenham in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. After a first half in which Juventus seemed content to protect its first-leg advantage and Atalanta produced little, the match came to life midway through the second half when both sides hit the goalframe.
A long lob from Atalanta’s Alejandro “Papu” Gomez hit the post following a defensive error by Medhi Benatia. Gomez then blasted another dangerous effort over the crossbar before Juve’s Douglas Costa curled a long shot off the bar just minutes later.
“We had a few problems in the first half, as we were late closing them down on the flanks and they did well to find passes between the lines,” Allegri said. “In the second half, we created more going forward, as Douglas Costa put himself behind the center forward and that broke the game open.”
Juventus was also slated to host Atalanta in Serie A on Sunday but that match was snowed out and will be made up March 14. Snow also fell during Wednesday’s game but it did not stick to the pitch.