Juve beat Inter to breathe life into title race

Last Updated: Sunday, December 6, 2009 - 09:50

Turin: Claudio Marchisio scored the winner as
Juventus beat champions Inter Milan 2-1 in a bad-tempered
clash at the Stadio Olimpico here to breathe new life into the
Serie A title race.

Inter`s lead at the top of the table is now just four
points following AC Milan`s comfortable 3-0 cruise against
Sampdoria earlier yesterday.

But the high-profile, top-of-the-table clash here lived
up to its star billing with incident aplenty as Juve finished
with 10 men following Brazilian Felipe Melo`s late sending
off, while Inter coach Jose Mourinho was also dismissed in the
first half.

Juve coach Ciro Ferrara said his team had proved a point
following two straight defeats, one in the Champions League.

"These type of games are very close, you can win them or
lose them but during the week we were well focused despite the
fact that clearly there were some difficult days given we had
just lost twice," he said.

"This was a great reply. We approached this game in a way
that could beat the champions of Italy and we deservedly
managed to do that."

Mourinho, unsurprisingly, refused to come out and meet
the press.

After all the pre-match hype about racism Inter
substitute Mario Balotelli received buckets of abuse but none
of it could be described as racial.

Juve began well and on five minutes had a good chance as
Amauri chested the ball back to Mohamed Sissoko who got just
enough of a push in the back from Muntari Sulley as he shot to
ensure goalkeeper Julio Cesar wasn`t troubled.

On nine minutes Diego Milito tried to tee up Dejan
Stankovic for the champions but Martin Caceres slid in to
clear.

Juve were ahead on 20 minutes as Giorgio Chiellini`s
header from a Diego free-kick was turned forward by Alessandro
Del Piero and off Felipe Melo`s thigh, wrong-footing Julio
Cesar as it dribbled over the line.

Mourinho was sent off for protesting the award of the
free-kick in the first place after a fairly clear Del Piero
dive.

The lead did not last long, though, as Inter came
storming back. On 25 minutes Gianluigi Buffon beat out a
Walter Samuel header from Esteban Cambiasso`s free-kick but
only a minute later Samuel Eto`o headed home a simple
right-wing cross from Stankovic.

The game then settled into a stalemate until Diego tried
to inject some life into it with a fizzing low shot on 54
minutes that Julio Cesar got down to and held.

Inter then broke quickly with Thiago Motta`s long ball
picking out Milito who crossed to the back post where
Stankovic`s low shot was blocked.

Juve, though, went straight up the other end and retook
the lead after Julio Cesar couldn`t hold Sissoko`s low shot
and Marchisio swept home the rebound.

Balotelli`s introduction straight afterwards ensured the
atmosphere was turned up a notch and he was loudly jeered
every time he touched the ball while there were sporadic
individual chants directed at him.

The end of the game descended into farce with Balotelli
at the centre of it after going down clutching his face
following minimal contact with Felipe Melo.

That sparked a bout of pushing and shoving that saw
Sissoko also go down clutching his face, again after almost no
contact, this time after he and Cristian Chivu gently touched
foreheads.

The result was Felipe Melo picking up a second yellow
card and being dismissed but Balotelli further incurred the
home fans` wrath as he flung himself to the ground
theatrically in the box in injury time as well.

Earlier in the day Milan had enjoyed a cake-walk against
hapless Sampdoria, ending the game as a contest inside 23
minutes. Marco Borriello opened the scoring from Ronaldinho`s
cross with just one minute on the clock.

The Brazilian star then set up Clarence Seedorf to rifle
home a left-footer from the edge of the area into the roof of
the net on 21 minutes.

Just two minutes after that it was all over as Pato
picked up Borriello`s header and although goalkeeper Luca
Castellazzi saved his first effort, he sent his second into
the empty net as Milan consolidated their second place.

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, December 6, 2009 - 09:50

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