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AC Milan

Rossoneri set up semi-final meeting with Inter after rout of Sarri’s side

AC Milan cruised their way into the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia by beating Lazio 4-0 thanks to a devastating first half display at San Siro.

It took Milan a bit of time to settle into the game and start stringing together their quick effective passing moves, but when they finally did the game opened up before the break as Rafael Leao netted first after a gorgeous Alessio Romagnoli ball put him through on goal.

Then it was Olivier Giroud’s turn to take centre stage again after his match-winning brace in the derby as he again netted twice in quick succession, first turning home a low cross after excellent work from Leao, and then tapping home at the far post after Theo Hernandez turned provider.

Franck Kessie would add some extra gloss to the scoreline with a goal inside the final 15 minutes as the Rossoneri comfortably booked their place in the semi-finals where they will meet city rivals Inter over two legs.

Head coach Stefano Pioli made just two changes to his starting line-up from the team that beat Inter at the weekend as Franck Kessie dropped back into the midfield double pivot with Brahim Diaz coming in for Ismael Bennacer and Junior Messias getting the nod on the right wing over Alexis Saelemaekers.

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The first shot on goal came from the danger man for the away side in Ciro Immobile, who got half a yard of space on the right side of the box to fire first time but shanked his effort well over and wide.

Milan’s first chance of the game came in the 12th minute when Messias made a dart inside from the right and saw an off-balance shot blocked into the path of Kessie 20 yards out, who hit it with venom but centrally and former Rossoneri keeper Pepe Reina gathered.

The home side had some appeals for a penalty turned down in the 23rd minute as a cross looked to brush the forearm of Patric, and then Sandro Tonali got a yellow card moments later which rules him out of the semi-final first leg against Inter.

It was the Rossoneri who took the lead in the 24th minute, and it was the boyhood Lazio fan Alessio Romagnoli who virtually created it himself. He pierced all three lines of the Biancocelesti’s resistence with a pinpoint ball to put Rafael Leao through on goal, and he made no mistake with a low angled finish past Reina.

The half then slipped into quite cagey play with Milan looking to keep winning the ball high up the field but with both sides committing some niggling fouls that ultimately brought about a lack of fluidity.

Three minutes before the break though, Milan got the second goal they might believe their pressure deserved. Having won the ball in the Lazio half, Brahim Diaz played it into the path of Leao who produced a brilliant bit of dribbling to get to the byline, gliding past his man and squaring for Olivier Giroud to tap in his ninth of the season.

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There would be a third goal just before the break and again it was Giroud who got on the scoresheet. Lazio’s constant surrendering of possession continued to hurt them and it was again Brahim who led Milan on a quick counter, sliding the ball past Leao into the path of Theo Hernandez who served a perfect low cross to the far post where Giroud was able to finish from close range.

A change was made at the break as Pioli made the decision to take Tonali off given he had been yellow carded, opting to bring Bennacer off the bench.

Milan clearly went into game management mode from the whistle for the commencement of the second half as they dictated the tempo but at less of a breakneck speed, with Junior Messias having the only half-chance before the hour mark.

On 60 minutes Pioli decided to inject some more fresh legs as Ante Rebic made his return from injury, coming on for Giroud who got a standing ovation, while Alexis Saelemaekers then made his way on for Messias.

Milan then seemed to go up a gear again as they produced some sublime counter-attacking football, passing through the thirds and in one instance setting Theo Hernandez free down the right wing unusually before a block.

Rebic seemed a little rusty having spent so long out and he will have been rueing that he missed the chance to make it 4-0 when he rose highest at the far post to meet an excellent cross but craned his effort wide.

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A couple more changes were made, with Daniel Maldini and Fikayo Tomori both entering the fray to get a run out with the game looking beyond doubt.

With just over 10 minutes on the clock, the Rossoneri did get their fourth goal as Franck Kessie opened his account in the cup. A free-kick from the substitute Daniel Maldini was not properly cleared and amid shouts for a handball Kessie struck one past Reina first time from the left side of the box.

There were even opportunities to make it 5-0 and if Milan had been more ruthless the score could have been worse, nonetheless a comfortable passage into the final four was confirmed, where Inter await.

READ MORE: Massara insists Milan ‘really care’ about the cup and responds to Donnarumma: “It was simply a gesture”

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