Juve beat Inter to breathe life into title race
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Last Updated: Sunday, December 06, 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 06, 2009, 09:50

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