Kucka, Bonaventura strike as Milan sets up Juve Cup quarter

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Juraj Kucka
AFP PHOTO

MILAN: Juraj Kucka and Giacomo Bonaventura struck in four second-half minutes to fire AC Milan to a thrilling 2-1 Italian Cup win over Torino and a quarterfinals tie with Juventus on Thursday (Friday in Manila).

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It means one of this season’s Cup quarters will be a repeat of the 2015 Cup final, when Juventus beat Milan on their way to a second successive league and Cup double.

Milan, who recently beat Juventus in Doha to claim the Italian Super Cup, won their home league fixture with the Serie A champions earlier this season.

But Vincenzo Montella’s resurgent Rossoneri initially struggled to settle at a rain-lashed San Siro, and seemed destined to suffer an upset when Italy striker Andrea Belotti pounced from close range to beat Gianluigi Donnarumma down low on 27 minutes.

Torino rejected a reported bid of 65m euros from Arsenal recently for Belotti, and he underlined the reasons why by coming close to claiming his second moments later with a deflected effort from Adem Ljajic’s smart cutback.

Milan’s best effort prior to the end of a mediocre first half was a stunning volley from Kucka that shaved Joe Hart’s post.

But a head injury to England ‘keeper Hart, which left him requiring a headband wrap following a clash with Gianluca Lapadula early in the second half, gave the hosts a spur.

Lapadula left his foot trailing over the ‘keeper’s head and face minutes after the restart and there was worry initially as Hart lay motionless on the ground.

After treatment, Hart was soon back up smiling and happy to see a glancing header by Suso go wide of his upright on 55 minutes.

Milan had sniffed the chance of a fightback and after a brief period of pressure Suso dribbled his way past two players before forcing Hart to parry low at his far post.

The ‘keeper could only push the ball into the path of Bonaventura, who found Kucka at the far post for the midfielder to fire high into the net from a tight angle.

Three minutes later Suso provided his second assist of the game, finding Bonaventura on the edge of the box with a crisp cross that Bonaventura fired past Hart.

Donnarumma did well to deny Belotti twice in the space of five minutes, although Milan spurned several chances at the end when Bonaventura and Lapadula, twice, fired wide of the target.

AFP

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