Juventus draw with AC Milan to reach Italian Cup final
AP Thursday, March 22, 2012, 12:27 am TWN
TURIN, Italy -- Mirko Vucinic scored in extra time to give Juventus a 2-2 draw with AC Milan on Tuesday and send his team to the Italian Cup final with a 4-3 win in the two-game series.
Getting a rare start in his final season with Juventus, 37-year-old Alessandro Del Piero put the hosts ahead in the 28th minute and Algeria left back Djamel Mesbah equalized for Milan in the 51st.
Second-half Milan substitute Maxi Lopez silenced the Juventus Stadium with a powerful shot from the edge of the area in the 81st to draw the clubs level on aggregate but Vucinic then found the top corner from 25 yards in the 96th to put Juve through.
"It was a great game," Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo said. "We're happy to reach the final against a squad as great as Milan. We've attained our first objective of the season."
In the May 20 final, Juventus will face either Napoli or Siena, which meet Wednesday with Siena holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg.
While Milan holds a four-point lead over Juve at the top of Serie A, Juve holds the edge head-to-head this season with a win and a draw in each competition.
Juventus remained undefeated in all competitions this season.
Both sides rested their first-choice goalkeepers, with Juventus using Marco Storari in place of Gianluigi Buffon and Milan calling on Marco Amelia for Christian Abbiati.
Milan threatened early with Zlatan Ibrahimovic but it was an effort from former Milan standout Pirlo that set up the opening goal.
Having transferred to Juve before this season, Pirlo caught Milan's defense off guard for a split second and delivered an excellent pass for Stephan Lichtsteiner, who held off a defender to slide in the cross for Del Piero to dribble around Amelia and score.
First-year Juventus coach Antonio Conte has found little room for Del Piero this season and club president Andrea Agnelli announced in October that this — Del Piero's 19th year in Bianconero — would be his final season with the team.
Perhaps sensing this might be his last chance to shine before his home fans, Del Piero leaped in joy and stuck his tongue out to celebrate his goal.
Juve fans chanted "There's only one captain" as the half wore on, and again when Del Piero exited midway through the second half.
Perhaps with upcoming matches against Roma and Barcelona in mind, Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri replaced Ibrahimovic with Lopez to start the second half.
Just as it seemed the match was heading toward a draw, Mesbah scored with a diving header following a long pass from Philippe Mexes after being left unmarked by Simone Pepe and then Lopez gave Milan the lead.
Marco Borriello had a chance for Juventus in the 86th but couldn't finish off a counterattack and the match entered extra time.
In the 93rd, Amelia did well to stop Juventus midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini but three minutes later Vucinic calmly controlled the ball and had time to line up a long shot that gives Juve a chance at its record 10th Italian Cup title.
Juventus and Roma currently share the record with nine cups each.
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