Vlahovic scores to put Juventus into Italian Cup semifinals

Paulo Dybala got Juve off to a great start in the third minute before Vlahovic's late strike helped Juventus beat Sassulo 2-1 to enter the semifinals on Thursday.

Dusan Vlahovic struck in the 88th minute to power Juventus into the Italian Cup semifinal.   -  REUTERS

Winter signing Dusan Vlahovic scored late for defending champion Juventus to squeeze into the Italian Cup semifinals with a 2-1 win over Sassuolo on Thursday.

The former Fiorentina striker did well to go past Mert Muldur and was fortunate his shot took a decisive deflection from Brazilian defender Ruan to finally beat the excellent Sassuolo goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo in the 88th minute.

The 40-year-old Pegolo had produced several outstanding saves to keep the visitors in the game, particularly in the second half.

Paulo Dybala got Juve off to a great start in the third minute, when he converted the rebound after Weston McKennie’s initial effort was blocked by a defender.

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But the visitor rallied and thoroughly deserved Hamed Traore's equalizer when it came in the 24th. The Ivorian midfielder played a one-two with Gianluca Scamacca to go past a defender and then let fly with a curling shot inside the far post despite facing three more.

It finally forced a reaction from Juve. Pegolo saved from both McKennie and Vlahovic to keep Sassuolo level at the break, and was busy after it, too.

Pegolo denied McKennie again from close range and Matthijs de Ligt struck the post before the rebound came off Leonardo Bonucci and went over. Pegolo stopped Alvaro Morata, then leaped like a grasshopper to deny Adrien Rabiot with less than 10 minutes remaining.

FIORENTINA THROUGH

Nikola Milenkovic scored with the last kick of the game to shoot 10-man Fiorentina into the semifinals with a 3-2 win at last year’s runner-up Atalanta.

Milenkovic, who came on late as a substitute, scored in the third minute of injury time when the home team failed to clear a free kick. Milenkovic stopped the ball on his thigh and let fly with a volley inside the far post.

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The visitor had an anxious wait as the goal was checked through VAR for any possible infringements before referee Michael Fabbri gave the all-clear and ended what had been a hard-fought game.

Fiorentina defender Martinez Quarta was sent off with his second yellow card in the 79th, shortly before Vincenzo Italiano reacted by bringing on Milenkovic – a defender – to help see out the draw and force extra time. But the Serbian scored the winner instead.

Inter Milan and city rival AC Milan already booked their places in the semifinals.

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