Juventus have one foot in the Italian Cup final after Martin Caceres scored a brace to hand them a 2-1 win over AC Milan in the semi-final, first leg at the San Siro on Wednesday.
Italian youth international Stephan El Shaarawy replied for the hosts, but it wasn’t enough.
The victory maintained the Serie A leaders’ unbeaten run this season in league and cup.
It was the second time in this campaign the champions have lost to their bitter rivals, but AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri denied his side’s chances of reaching the final had been diminished.
“We have to accept the defeat knowing that nothing has been compromised,” he said. “We were naive in conceding the second goal and that’s disappointing in a game such as this.”
The other semi-final is between Siena and Napoli, with their first leg scheduled to be played in Tuscany yesterday.
The first half was a tentative and tight affair with few chances for either side, both of whom had rung the changes, resting several first-choice regulars.
However, Juve coach Antonio Conte praised his bit-part players for their contribution.
“What I liked the most was the response from the lads — I’m talking about the new ones and the ones called to the cause for an important match such as this in a cup semi-final away to Milan,” he said.
The second half was a much more lively affair, thanks to the visitors taking an early lead.
Former AC Milan forward Marco Borriello wriggled free in the box to get off a shot that Amelia could only push out and Caceres was quickest onto the loose ball to finish on 53 minutes.
Juve threatened to run away with it and captain Alessandro Del Piero fizzed a shot wide of the upright.
However, the hosts started to come back into it and following a cross from Luca Antonini, captain Massimo Ambrosini teed up El Shaarawy to fire home a crisp finish on 62 minutes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic then had the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for a somewhat obvious handball.
Juve went close when Amelia pushed out Mirko Vucinic’s shot, only for Fabio Quagliarella to arrive too late to knock home the rebound.
However, seven minutes from time Giaccherini beat the offside trap to escape down the left and cross for Caceres to take a touch and plant an unstoppable curler into the top corner that left Amelia rooted to the spot.