Milan struck twice in extra time as they came from behind to defeat Genoa 3-1 and advance to the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.
Leo Ostigard’s first-half header gave the visitors the lead on Andriy Shevchenko’s return to San Siro.
However, Milan’s persistence after the break paid dividends as Oliver Giroud nodded home an equaliser with 16 minutes remaining, and substitutes Rafael Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers completed the turnaround in the additional half-hour to send Stefano Pioli’s side through.
Genoa had lost each of their 13 previous matches at this stage of the Coppa Italia, last reaching the quarter-finals in 1991-92.
Nevertheless, the visitors took the lead in the 17th minute as Ostigard rose to head home Manolo Portanova’s corner.
Milan then lost Fikayo Tomori to injury midway through the first half, the former Chelsea centre-back limping off to be replaced by Alessandro Florenzi.
Things almost got worse for the hosts before the break when Portanova squandered a great opportunity by shooting wide from inside the six-yard box.
The Rossoneri had never been beaten by Genoa on home soil in this competition and they turned up the pressure after the restart, enjoying well over 70 per cent of the possession.
They were finally rewarded in the 74th minute as Giroud brilliantly headed past Adrian Semper from Theo Hernandez’s inviting cross.
It continued to be one-way traffic in extra time, Leao drawing a smart save out of Semper, while Sandro Tonali’s vicious long-range drive was inches wide of the target.
But Genoa’s resistance was finally broken by Leao in the 102nd minute – albeit in fortunate circumstances – as the Portugal international’s attempted cross looped over Semper and in off the far post.
Saelemaekers then sealed the deal five minutes after the restart, turning home from Hernandez’s square ball.
What does it mean? Relief for Milan
The Rossoneri were given a fright by Genoa, who are 19th in Serie A having recorded just one league win all season, but their quality shone through in the end.
Following the interventions of Leao and Saelemaekers, four of Milan’s past seven Coppa Italia goals have been scored during the additional 30-minute period.
Leao makes the difference once more
For the second home match running, Leao made a telling contribution for the hosts from the bench.
Replacing Ante Rebic in the 62nd minute, the Portugal international fortuitously put his side in front, while recording game-high tallies of four shots, two on target and two blocked attempts.
He also recorded three key passes, a tally only bettered by the in-form Hernandez (four).
Hernandez at the double
Following his brace of goals at Venezia on Sunday, Hernandez grabbed an assist double four days later.
The France international delivered a delicious cross for Giroud’s equaliser, while demonstrating tremendous awareness to pick out Saelemaekers for the killer third goal.
Overall, he created four chances and registered 134 touches, both game-high tallies.
Key Opta Facts
– Milan have reached the Coppa Italia quarter-finals for the 13th consecutive season.
– The Rossoneri (11) and Genoa (nine) have gone to extra time the most times in the competition since 2011-2012 onwards.
– Rafael Leao has been involved in four goals in his three games played in 2021: two goals (both as a substitute) and two assists.
– Theo Hernandez is the first Serie A defender to reach double figures for goal involvements this season considering all competitions: four goals and seven assists (two here).
– Olivier Giroud has scored his first goal from open play since last August, against Cagliari in Serie A.
Milan return to Serie A action on Monday and will look to record a fifth straight victory in all competitions when they welcome Spezia to San Siro.