MILAN (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo was too ill to play, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic spent the evening resting on the bench, but even without their biggest stars, Juventus and AC Milan cruised into the last eight of the Italian Cup early yesterday.
Juventus beat visiting Udinese 4-0 in the late game, after Milan had dispatched SPAL, 3-0.
In the first game of the evening, 10-man Fiorentina beat Atalanta 2-1.
Ronaldo was sidelined after suffering an attack of sinusitis, but he is not the only ace in the Juventus pack.
After 16 minutes, Paulo Dybala carved through Udinese with a series of quick one-twos, finishing with a couple of exchanges with centre forward Gonzalo Higuain.
When his Argentine compatriot played a pass one little behind him, Dybala spun and floated the ball onto Higuain’s chest and he strode forward and scored.
“That was a goal of rare beauty, to see three or four exchanges like that at high speed. It was worth the price of the ticket,” said Juve coach Maurizio Sarri.
“I love to see goals like that with fast passing, but they can only work with players of great technical quality.”
Ten minutes after the opener, Udinese goalkeeper Nicolas tripped Federico Bernardeschi and Dybala converted the penalty.
Dybala scored a goal in the 58th minute, clipping the ball over Nicolas from the right edge of the box. Two minutes later, Douglas Costa converted Juve’s second penalty after Bram Nuytinck handled.
In Milan, Krzysztof Piatek, who is reportedly on the verge of a move to Tottenham Hotspur, outpaced the sluggish SPAL offside trap to give the home team the lead after 20 minutes.
Samuel Castillejo curled a precise left-foot shot inside the far post just before half time.
Fullback Theo Hernandez added a third in the 66th minute, surging upfield and smashing home a left-foot shot from just outside the penalty area.
In Tuscany, Spaniard Pol Lirola collected Erik Pulgar’s long pass before charging towards goal and slotting home his first Fiorentina goal six minutes from time, winning the tie for the hosts despite German Pezzella’s sending off 14 minutes earlier.
Patrick Cutrone also scored his first goal for the club when he put Fiorentina ahead in the 11th minute of his first start since arriving on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers last week.