Udinese caused an upset at the San Siro on Wednesday night, as they came from behind to knock AC Milan out of the Coppa Italia and progress to the semifinals. Luis Muriel cancelled out Mario Balotelli's opener late in the first half, before Nico López scored an excellent goal deep in the second to inflict upon Clarence Seedorf his first coaching defeat.
It took only six minutes for Milan's opener to arrive, as the rossoneri played Udinese at their own game. A swift counter-attack down the right culminated in a low Valter Birsa cross, tapped in by Mario Balotelli from point-blank range after a mishit from Robinho.
Unfortunately that didn't set the tone for an action-packed opening, with game very scrappy early on. It took a while for the pattern of play to set, with neither side able to construct cohesive attacking moves. When the game eventually settled, it unfortunately wasn't the most thrilling affair.
Udinese were a match for their Milanese hosts, but no more than that. The result was a drab midfield skirmish, and a game lacking in invention and gusto.
However, the zebrette managed to draw level out of nowhere with just five minutes of the half remaining. Urby Emanuelson bundled youngster Silvan Widmer over in the penalty area, with Luis Muriel stepping up to convert the spot-kick in the absence of substitute Antonio Di Natale.
Unfortunately any resulting excitement went AWOL during the halftime break, with both sides once again lacking intensity after the restart. Not even the notion that they were just a couple of wins from a Coppa Italia final was enough to motivate the players. Save for a couple of half-chances for Udinese, there was little worthy of note for the ensuing half-hour.
Mario Balotelli went close to scoring the crucial third goal inside the final 20 minutes, though Udinese goalkeeper Željko Brkić managed to tip his venomous free-kick around the post.
It would prove to be an important stop, as Brkić's newly-introduced teammate Nico López netted the winning goal just a couple of minutes later. The Uruguayan youngster charged towards goal and drilled the ball powerfully past Abbiati with deadly accuracy. It was a brilliant goal; a bright spark at the end of the drab match.
Most importantly, it meant we didn't have to suffer extra time.
Seedorf threw on Keisuke Honda as the rossoneri looked to equalise, though Udinese managed to retain possession and slowly sucked the life from the hosts. They progress into the semifinal, where they'll play either Fiorentina or the last remaining Serie B side, Siena.
AC Milan: Abbiati; Emanuelson (Abate 87'), Rami, Zapata (Mexès 36'), De Sciglio; De Jong, Nocerino (Honda 82'); Robinho, Kaká, Birsa; Balotelli.
Goals: Balotelli (6').
Udinese: Brkić; Domizzi, Danilo, Heurtaux; Gabriel Silva, Lazzari (Pinzi 90+3'), Allan, Badu, Widmer; Fernandes (Pereyra 69'); Muriel (López 75').
Goals: Muriel (41', 78').