Inter Milan end Juve's 49 match unbeaten streak
Inter Milan finally broke Juve’s 49 match unbeaten streak when they defeated the Italian champions 3 – 1 at the Juventus Stadium. The home team will regret not putting matters to bed with a host of golden opportunities they had in the first ten minutes, after they had taken the lead albeit with strong hints of offside. The Nerazzurri’s comeback is quite commendable though, with good attacking play sealing a brace for Milito, and a good overall performance from Palacio capped with a goal.
18 seconds was all it took Juventus to break Inter’s defence, as Arturo Vidal found the back of the net after Kwadwo Asamoah found him with a ball across the box, leaving him with a tap in. There were suspicions of offside against Asamoah, but the assistant referee kept his flag down, and the goal stood. Inter’s defence, which has been excellent this season, seemed in shock, and Juventus pressed them even further. Handanovic produced a brilliant save to deny Marchisio, after the Italian had been put through for a one-on-one with the ‘keeper by a brilliant ball from Pirlo. Juventus continued to rock Inter’s foundations, and the same combination of events occurred in the very next minute. Pirlo played an excellent ball over the defence that Marchisio chested down well before firing his shot straight at Handanovic.
Inter finally got a foothold in the game with a small spell of possession which won them a free kick in an attacking position. From the free kick, Cambiasso spotted the run of Palacio brilliantly, and the Argentinian headed home, only to be ruled offside. Inter nearly equalised in the 20th minute when a corner was worked to Cassano, who was in lots of space and curled a shot just inches wide of Buffon’s goal, with the ‘keeper rooted in his spot. The match then assumed a chess-like appearance, with neither side wanting to make mistakes. Stephan Lichsteiner, who had just received a booking for a bad foul on Cambiasso went sliding in on Palacio, deep in the opposing half, and was extremely lucky to not receive a second booking and a sending off. Antonio Conte, unlike Arsene Wenger, saw the danger of being down to ten men against a club like Inter, and replaced Lichsteiner with Caceres.
Juventus ended the half on a strong note, however, with a couple of marauding runs from Asamoah down the left flank, and a few attempts on goal. It could very well have paid dividends with a loose ball falling to the goal scorer Vidal, who drove it at goal from the edge of the box. Handanovic stood strong for Inter though, and the teams headed into the break with the same scoreline as had been since 18 seconds into the game.
Bendtner came on to replace Vucinic at the beginning of the second half, after the Montenegrin had taken a knock in the first. This allowed the already impressive Giovinco to fall a bit deeper and involve himself in play, going on a fabulous run that beat 4 Inter players before being stopped at the edge of the box. Handanovic was called into action yet again as Bonucci broke through the middle for Juventus, and had a shot on target, which was deflected wide of goal by the ‘keeper.
Inter failed to make the most of their chances as well. On one particular occasion, in a 3-on-2 situation, Milito chose to pass to Palacio on his right, while Cassano was in a much better position on his left, only to see Palacio blaze his shot over the crossbar. Buffon did his bit to deny Inter as well, when Nagatomo cut in from the left flank, and unleashed a fierce shot on target. Soon after, a well worked free kick saw Cassano slide the ball to Cambiasso who laid it off for Milito. The Argentine striker might well have scored but for the fact that he was tugged by the shirt by Marchisio. The referee waited a few moments to confirm with his assistant before finally awarding a penalty. Diego Milito stepped up to the spot and smashed the penalty home to level scores at 1 – 1.
Juventus had penalty claims of their own in the 66th minute, when Giovinco was muscled off the ball by Samuel, but the referee deemed it to be a fair challenge. Out of nowhere, with the defenders caught napping, substitute Guarin latched on to a pass and unleashed a shot on target, which was deflected away by Buffon, only for Milito to slot it home from a few yards out. Juventus, now chasing the game to maintain their unbeaten streak, stepped their game up a notch, with a long range shot from Pirlo turned away by Handanovic for a corner. Walter Gargano nearly gifted Juventus a goal after his pass to Handanovic fell short, and was picked up by Bendtner, only for the Danish striker to lob it across the face of goal for a goal kick. Playing in front of their home fans, Juve’s increasing desperation was evident, as the shots continued to be fired, with Quagliarella coming close. All this attacking intent left Juve vulnerable at the back, and a quick break saw the ball played to Nagatomo who was in acres of space, and eventually got the ball through for Palacio to score. While Buffon did get a hand to it, no one could possibly blame the veteran ‘keeper for having failed to keep the score from reaching 1 – 3. There was no way back for Juventus from that situation, as they crashed to their first defeat in 50 games.
It is a result that sees the race for the Serie A crown blown wide open, with Inter now only a solitary point behind leaders, Juventus. More importantly, it is a defeat which Juventus will have to bounce back from straight away to not let any other teams take advantage of the end of their undefeated streak.
Result: Juventus (Arturo Vidal 1’) 1 – 3 Inter Milan (Diego Milito (P) 59’, 75’ Rodrigo Palacio 89’)