Milan booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia with a penalty shoot-out victory over Torino at San Siro following a goalless draw after extra time.
The Serie A leaders eased to a 2-0 win when the sides met in the league on Saturday but found it a lot tougher to break down their opponents – 28 points worse off in the league – in Tuesday’s cup tie.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic squandered the best early opening on his first start since November 22 and Milan then dominated the second half, twice hitting the post and having a penalty shout turned down.
Neither side could find a way through in the additional 30 minutes, but it was the hosts who prevailed on spot-kicks to set up a tie with Fiorentina or Inter – Hakan Calhanoglu scoring the decisive penalty after Ciprian Tatarusanu had denied Tomas Rincon.
Milan head coach Stefano Pioli made five changes to his starting line-up from the league clash between the sides, and it was one of the returning faces who went closest to scoring in an uneventful first half.
Ibrahimovic took advantage of Torino’s lopsided defensive line, controlled Davide Calabria’s pass over the top and fired a dipping half-volley over the crossbar from 15 yards.
Tatarusanu was making just his fourth appearance for Milan since joining last year and made a good one-handed save to keep out Amer Gojak’s curler seven minutes before half-time.
Ibrahimovic and Samu Castillejo were replaced by Jens Hauge and Calhanoglu after the interval and Milan looked a lot livelier in the early stages of the second period.
Rafael Leao, among the scorers on Saturday, failed to get the better of Vanja Milinkovic-Savic when played in by Brahim Diaz and then had a shot kept out by the Torino goalkeeper.
Milan’s pressure looked to be telling as Diogo Dalot and Calabria hit the post in the space of two minutes.
But the home side’s frustration soon started to show, with substitute Gianluigi Donnarumma issued a red card for dissent after a second penalty call went against Leao following a challenge from Milinkovic-Savic.
Diaz ballooned over the bar from 10 yards to signal extra time. These sides also needed extra time when they met at the quarter-final stage last season, Milan coming through 4-2 winners, but substitute Theo Hernandez’s saved shot was the closest either side came to a breakthrough here in the additional 30 minutes.
Milan matched Torino in converting their first three penalties and visiting captain Rincon’s saved effort towards the bottom-right corner proved decisive, allowing Calhanoglu to fire home and send his side through.