Ten-Man Juve Draw With Inter

The Nerazzurri seemed on course for victory until the very last minute...

Juventus welcomed Inter to the Stadio Olimpico of Turin tonight in a final attempt to keep the Scudetto race somewhat alive, with the Nerazzurri ten points ahead. Claudio Ranieri’s side played in a 4-4-2 formation with captain Alessandro Del Piero and Vincenzo Iaquinta in attack, while Inter played in an unusual 4-1-4-1 with Luis Figo, Dejan Stankovic, Sulley Muntari, and Mario Balotelli behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

First Half

The match was lively from the start, with both sides looking dangerous going forward. The first big chance was for the visitors in the 10th minute, when Balotelli went past Nicola Legrottaglie and fired a shot on goal that was deflected by Gianluigi Buffon, but the ball was still heading toward the back of the net before Tiago made a great last-second clearence.

In the 23rd minute, there was an interesting shot by Inter defender Walter Samuel from the edge of the area that went just wide of the post.

Five minutes later, the Argentinean defender was called into action as Pavel Nedved found Iaquinta in the area with a long pass, which he managed to intercept and clear for a corner.

A huge chance came for the home side on the half-hour mark, as Del Piero played the ball to Marco Marchionni, who went past Christian Chivu and found himself alone in front of Julio Cesar, but he couldn’t beat the Inter keeper with his cheeky lob.

Inter responded in the 34th minute, when Stankovic went for goal with a powerful shot from the edge of the area on an assist by Balotelli, but it was off target.

The visitors threatened again three minutes later, as Ibrahimovic played it forward to Figo, who dribbled his way past Legrottaglie and Christian Molinaro, but he couldn’t get it past Buffon who did well to come out and grab the ball.

That was the last chance of a lively first half, which finished on a 0-0 score that reflected the proceedings up until that point.

Second Half

The second half started with the same players as in the first half.

The first chance of the second half was for Stankovic, who tried another one of his long distance efforts, which was once again neutralised by a confident Buffon in the 50th minute.

Inter looked more convincing at this stage of the match, and Ibrahimovic came close to opening the scoring in the 57th minute with a header from inside the area on a cross by Balotelli, which was well saved by Buffon.

On the hour mark, Chivu sent in a dangerous cross toward the far post aimed for Muntari, who came slightly too late to tap the ball in.

On their next chance, however, Inter were more clinical and they opened the score. In the 64th minute, Muntari crossed the ball in for Balotelli on a counterattack, and the youngster fired a clinical diagonal shot that beat Buffon to make it 1-0 Inter.

The Nerazzurri were in complete control after this, although Julio Cesar had to come out well in the 70th minute to a shot by Marchionni, who did well to penetrate into the area to reach a pass from the right by Iaquinta.

A turning-point in the match came in the 76th minute, when Tiago was handed a straight red card for a couple of harsh fouls on Muntari and Balotelli, leaving Juve depleted with ten men.

This made things even easier for the visitors, and they came close to doubling the score in the 79th minute with Stankovic, who forced Buffon into another good save with a shot from the edge of the area.

In the last minutes of the match, Inter seemed to be well in control and passed the ball around comfortably. In the 88th minute, they had another chance to score as substitute Julio Cruz fired another shot from distance from a nice pass by Ibrahimovic, but once again Buffon was alert and deflected the ball away.

However, just when it all seemed lost for Juve, Zdenek Grygera managed to find an equaliser in injury time, heading in a corner kick by substitute Sebastian Giovinco after being left unmarked by Inter’s defence. It was the 91st minute.

There were no further chances in the remaining minutes of injury time. Inter wasted this opportunity to completely wrap up the Scudetto race, but they are still 10 points clear of Juve with just six games to go now.

Danilo Pochini, Goal.com