Milanese squeeze in


TOPSY-TURVY: Perugia's William Viali attempts a spectacular overhead shot as AC Milan's Gennaro Gattuso and Thomas Elveg watches during their Italian Cup semi-final match. AC Milan won 2-1 to make it into the two-legged final. - Reuterspic

MILAN: AC Milan hung on to beat Perugia 2-1 in their Italian Cup semi-final, second leg on Tuesday and take their place in May's final against AS Roma or Lazio. 

After the first leg in Perugia finished 0-0, goals from Jon Dahl Tomasson and Alessandro Nesta were enough to secure Milan's place in the two-legged final, although a goal six minutes from time by Perugia's Andrea Caracciolo gave Carlo Ancelotti's side a scare late in the game. 

“It's a long season. We are in the Cup final now, the quarter-finals of the Champions League and we are still in the hunt for the title. We want to go all the way,” said Nesta. 

Danish international Tomasson put Milan ahead five minutes before the break with a close-range effort after a Cristian Brocchi shot hit Nesta and fell kindly to the former Feyenoord forward. 

Seven minutes after the restart Nesta headed in Milan's second, rising well to meet a cross from Portuguese midfielder Rui Costa. 

In a low-key game, played in front of a very poor crowd of just 9,665 at the 80,000-capacity San Siro, Milan looked to have comfortably booked their place in the final early on, but in the end they were fortunate to maintain their lead. 

Substitute Caracciolo pulled a goal back in the 84th minute when he met a cross from Brazilian Ze Maria and in injury time Fabrizio Miccoli struck the bar with a rocketing free kick. 

An equaliser would have been enough to put Perugia through on the away goals rule and it almost came when Emanuele Berettoni fired in a fierce shot that Milan keeper Christian Abbiati did well to keep out. 

In the final seconds, Berettoni put a low cross into a crowded penalty area but Perugia's Australian goalkeeper Zelico Kalac, who had stayed upfield, put the ball wide with two teammates waiting to pounce behind him. 

Perugia coach Serse Cosmi was left to rue that miss, saying: “Our dream was to get into the UEFA Cup this season.  

“We know its very difficult for us to do that via the league, there are superior teams like Parma and Chievo above us and we were always going to have more chance in the Cup. 

“In the end, we were two centimetres away from the Cup final.” – Reuters  

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