Coppa Italia

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Academy kid Cutrone wins Milan Derby in extra time (video)

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A Milan Derby heading to extra time? That’s what we saw Wednesday in the Italian Cup, and Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan was the happier for it.

Patrick Cutrone knifed home Suso’s pass in the 104th minute, and Gianluigi Donnarumma made a number of fine saves as AC Milan advanced with a 1-0 quarterfinal win.

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The goal meant everything to the soon-to-be 20-year-old, who couldn’t hold in his emotions. Cutrone joined the Milan academy at age 8, so this one’s special for him.

“I can’t believe it because it feels like I was playing with the primavera yesterday, scoring in the derbies and celebrating in the same way. Tonight I do it in front of a full San Siro”

Milan spent a lot this summer and has muddled its way through the Serie A season. Could this win transform their league form, too?

Serie A reluctantly tries English model: festive fixtures

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ROME (AP) For a competition that has always held holidays as sacrosanct, Serie A is taking a big break from tradition this week.

Following the successful example of the English Premier League, the Italian league will play Serie A and Italian Cup matches over four of the next five days.

“The concept is simple. Professional soccer is an entertainment product and offering it during the holiday period is a great opportunity for those in charge,” Roma general manager Mauro Baldissoni told The Associated Press.

“The Premier League has shown that it works to offer this product during the holidays – both in terms of stadium attendance and international TV viewership.”

The opening two matches of the week will be held in the country’s two biggest stadiums: Lazio hosts Fiorentina in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday in the Italian Cup quarterfinals, then it’s a Milan derby at the San Siro in another quarterfinal a day later.

On Friday, in Serie A, league leader Napoli visits Crotone. On Saturday, there’s a slate of nine league matches, beginning at 12:30 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) with Fiorentina vs. AC Milan, and concluding with evening matches featuring Inter Milan hosting Lazio and Juventus visiting Hellas Verona.

More Cup matches are scheduled for Jan. 2 and 3, then Serie A again on Jan. 5 and 6.

Veteran coach Fabio Capello believes the scheduling is already problematic because of too many night matches – starting with the week’s first game, Lazio-Fiorentina, at 9 p.m. local time (2000 GMT).

“It’s too late,” Capello told Italian daily La Repubblica. “That means leaving the stadium at midnight in the cold with many people having to work the next day. If you’re going to play on a holiday, you’ve got to start earlier and help the fans out.”

In the past, Serie A’s winter break began before Christmas and lasted until after Jan. 6, which is Epiphany, a major Catholic feast day and the end of the holiday period in Italy.

This season, the break will be from Jan. 7-20.

“It doesn’t change much for the players,” Baldissoni said. “They’ll still have a break in January.”

Still, the Italian schedule has not gone quite as far as the Premier League, which has no break at all and games on Dec. 26, 27, 28, 30 and 31, plus Jan. 1, 2, 3 and 4 – meaning teams will play three matches in little more than a week.

“In England, the last match on Boxing Day (Tuesday) starts in late afternoon. It would be good not to just copy but also improve on the copied product,” Capello said.

But for a league struggling with attendance, fan violence and racism, Italy is providing an opportunity for families to go to the stadium while school is on break.

An average of 22,177 fans attended Serie A matches last season, ranking the league fourth in Europe behind the Bundesliga, English Premier League, and La Liga.

The German, Spanish, and French leagues still won’t play during the last week of the year. But other sports like the NBA and NFL do.

“Not taking advantage of this period and leaving it to other leagues means losing competitively in the international market so we’ve decided to get involved during this period,” Baldissoni said.

It’s a timely move, considering the Italian game is in dire need of a boost after the Azzurri’s failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades.

“It’s a way to try and boost the brand value of Serie A,” Baldissoni said.

It also coincides with the most competitive Serie A in years. The top four clubs – Napoli, six-time defending champion Juventus, Inter and Roma – are within seven points of each other.

Serie A recently made a switch and assigned its international TV rights for the next three seasons to IMG for 370 million euros ($440 million) per season, nearly double the value of the previous deal with MP and Silva.

Next month, the league is planning to assign a new deal for its much more lucrative domestic rights with a price tag expected to exceed 1 billion euros.

So feedback on attendance, TV viewership, and advertising for the holiday games will be highly scrutinized.

“It’s an experiment,” Baldissoni said. “Let’s see if it works here like it does in England.”

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

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Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

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However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Juventus wins Coppa Italia to move toward treble

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Juventus is two wins away from becoming the ninth team in UEFA history to win a treble.

One of those wins will likely come and give The Old Lady yet another Serie A scudetto, and Juve could also win the shield if Roma loses a game.

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The other is a little trickier: topping Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Final come June 3 in Wales.

The first jewel of the hopeful treble came Wednesday when Juve won its fourth-straight Coppa Italia via a 2-0 win over Lazio.

Defenders Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci scored for the victors at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Barcelona has won a pair of trebles and is the last team to do the trick back in 2014-15. Others to have won trebles are Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Manchester United, PSV Eindhoven, Ajax, and Celtic.

WATCH: Mertens goes from sub to scorer in 10 seconds

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Amazing.

Dries Mertens redefined “impact sub” on Wednesday as Napoli fell short in its bid to advance to the Coppa Italia Final for the first time in three years.

Juventus led 2-1 and 5-2 on aggregate when Mertens came into the match for Arkadiusz Milik.

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He jogged onto the pitch, accelerated, and just kept going as he took the ball off of fumbling Juve keeper Neto and deposited in the goal.

Sadly, Napoli entered the game in a two-goal hole from the first leg and its 3-2 second leg win was not enough.