Juventus held Inter Milan to a 0-0 draw at the Allianz Arena tonight to seal their place in the final of the Coppa Italia. Despite being a goalless encounter, the second leg of the semi-final was highly entertaining and a well-contested game.
The hosts got the game off to a great start and dominated the proceedings for the first 20 minutes of the game. Inter then started threatening Juventus' defense as the half-hour mark approached.
Chances came aplenty for both sides in the final 20 minutes of the first half but despite that, both sides could only record one shot on target before the break.
The visitors had an early penalty appeal denied by Maurizio Mariani as he did not find anything malicious when Lautaro Martinez went down in the box following a clash with Federico Bernardeschi.
Cristiano Ronaldo had two shots blocked brilliantly by Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni, while the Portuguese's fierce strike was saved by Samir Handanovic at the near post two minutes before the half-time whistle.
Both sides picked up where they left off in the first half and continued to move the ball well when in possession. A solid, no-nonsense defensive approach from the defenders was the highlight of the second half, which kept the scoreline intact.
Juventus came into the game with an advantage on aggregate and just needed a draw to head into the final. Well, Andrea Pirlo came in with a strategy to do just that and executed it perfectly to deny Inter Milan a shot at their first silverware since 2011.
Here, we take a look at the five major talking points from the game.
#5 Central defenders of both sides played a crucial role in denying goalscoring chances
Tonight the centre-halves of both sides put in an inspired display on the pitch. The defenders were not afraid to put their bodies on the line and made plenty of crucial interventions in the form of well-timed tackles, interceptions, and blocks to keep the scoreline even.
Merih Demiral produced two blocks in the early stages of the game, one of which was an important one, from Christian Eriksen's shot. His partner Matthijs De Ligt did well to keep Romelu Lukaku and Martinez's runs in check.
At the other end of the pitch the trio of Bastoni, De Vrij, and Milan Skriniar were not particularly busy but showed awareness of the danger. There were a couple of occasions on which Ronaldo had a clear sight on goal and the only thing between him and the back of the net were the brilliant blocks by Bastoni and De Vrij.
The defenders continued their impressive shift in the second half as well and did not allow the attackers to take even one extra touch near the box. While most games in modern football are all about attack, the defenders, especially the centre-halves, were some of the most important players on the pitch tonight.
#4 Samir Handanovic heroics delayed Inter's eventual exit from the competition
Though the Inter defenders were at the top of their game for the most part, with Ronaldo to defend against, time and again it all came down to how well the Inter Milan No.1 Samir Handanovic reacted to the Serie A top scorer's shots.
The 36-year-old reacted well, as he has done for so long with the club, and denied Ronaldo, who was Juve's biggest threat in the game, thrice from close range. All three were top-notch saves with the first coming just before the break when Handanovic saved Ronaldo's effort at the near post with his feet.
The second was probably the best save of the night, in which he reacted quickly to Ronaldo's driven strike after being left at the prolific goalscorer's mercy by his defenders in the 64th minute.
Just six minutes later he was called into action again and proved equal to Ronaldo's attempt from a one-on-one situation. Though he conceded twice in the first leg, he did all he could in this match and his heroics were undone by a great defensive display of their own by Juventus.