Juventus beat AC Milan in first leg of Coppa Italia semifinals

Rome: Thanks to a brace from Martin Caceres, Juventus beat AC Milan 2-1 at the San Siro in the first leg of the Coppa Italia football semifinals Wednesday.

Stephan El Shaarawy equalised for the hosts just after the hour mark in the first leg only for the Uruguayan Caceres to net a superb late winner for the Serie A leaders.

Juventus head coach Antonio Conte hailed his side`s win.

"It is not just the result that counts, but the introduction of the newcomers who had a great game. I think this victory shows what hard work is behind the team, which allows us to rotate the squad without damaging the performance.

"This team has players who want to dream and know in order to achieve that dream they need to work, work, work," he said.

His Milan counterpart Massimiliano Allegri asked his side to stay calm after the tie.

"We have lost a few too many times recently, but must stay calm and confident of our own abilities, especially as we have an injury crisis on our hands and many players cannot rest the way they ought to.

"There is no pressure on us, because I know the strength of my squad. We have got to continue working to emerge from this situation," he said.

Milan, Juve`s closest challengers in the league, were second best for much of the contest, although Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a second-half strike disallowed, Xinhua reported.

Marco Borriello fired an early shot wide for the visitors, while at the other end Clarence Seedorf was also off target from long range.

El Shaarawy should have put Milan in front in the 16th minute, but could only place his shot wide from inside the six-yard box.

The first goal came in the 53rd minute as Caceres followed up to tap home a deflected shot of Borriello.

Alessandro Del Piero almost made it two with a shot which flashed just wide, but instead Milan levelled in the 62nd minute through El Shaarawy who nodded home from close range after getting on the end of Massimo Ambrosini`s header.

Ibrahimovic had a goal disallowed seven minutes later and Mark van Bommel shot wide as Milan suddenly looked like the most likely winners.

But Caceres stuck a fantastic second in the 83rd minute, picking out the top left-hand corner with a right-footed shot from outside the area.

Robinho fired wide in stoppage time as Milan looked for another leveller, but Juve held on to have one foot in the final.