AC Milan produced a comfortable 3-1 win over Spezia Calcio in their Coppa Italia last-16 tie at the San Siro on Wednesday, in their first match since sacking coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Goals from Robinho, Giampaolo Pazzini and Keisuke Honda killed off the tie before Nicola Ferrari pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 90th minute.
Spezia enjoyed a bright start at the San Siro and won a third minute corner with Milan struggling to keep hold of the ball.
The visitors almost made their early momentum count and should have opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Milan goalkeeper Abbiati spilled a cross which fell to Bovo, but his subsequent effort was well blocked by Mexes to spare his keeper’s blushes.
Mexes then almost broke the deadlock at the other end when he fired a vicious effort narrowly over the crossbar two minutes later.
Caretaker coach Mauro Tassotti’s men then should have taken the lead in the 22nd minute but Pazzini’s header went just wide following a Honda free-kick when it looked easier to score.
Milan then did open the scoring in this Copa Italia tie when Pazzini broke down the right before firing in a wonderful cross for Robinho to head home with 27minutes on the clock.
The goal seemed to give the home side a boost and they doubled their lead on the half-hour mark, when Pazzini acrobatically scored a volley to all but settle the tie and kill off any thought of a Spezia upset.
Keisuke Honda who was making his home debut, then added a third for Milan with just a minute played after the half-time interval. The Japan international tucked home a rebound from skipper Montolivo's long-range effort, which Spezia goalkeeper Leali could only parry.
The Serie B side struggled for the rest of the 90 minutes as Milan created chance after chance and Spezia will be thankful that Montolivo and Pazzini wasted glorious opportunities in the 54th and 66nd minutes respectively.
Striker Nicola Ferrari did however score a late consolation goal for Spezia when he produced a neat finish in the box to beat Abbiati in the dying few seconds of the game.
The result means that AC Milan will meet Udinese next in the quarter-finals of the Copa Italia.