JUVENTUS NO MORE INVINCIBLE, AS INTER MILAN END THEIR 49-MATCH UNBEATEN RUN IN THE SERIE A
Inter underlined their Scudetto credentials by coming from behind to defeat Juventus 3-1 in Turin, a win that ended their opponents’ 49-game unbeaten run.
The Nerazzurri had found themselves a goal down after just 19 seconds, with Arturo Vidal turning in Kwadwo Asamoah’s shot-cum-cross. However, Inter maintained their composure and more than played their part in an absorbing first-half, before taking control of proceedings after the interval.
The visitors deservedly drew level just before the hour mark courtesy of a penalty from Diego Milito and the Argentine struck again with just 15 minutes remaining after following up Fredy Guarin’s drive.
Juventus went in search of an equaliser, but they were punished for pouring forward when Rodrigo Palacio stabbed the ball home, to secure a victory which saw Inter reduce the Bianconeri’s lead at the summit of Serie A to a solitary point.
The hosts could not have hoped for a better start to such an important fixture, stunning the in-form Nerazzurri with a goal inside the opening 20 seconds.
Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco exchanged passes in midfield before the former slipped the ball through for Asamoah. The Ghanaian was offside, but the flagged stayed down and the former Udinese man benefited from another huge stroke of luck when his awfully wayward attempt on goal was calmly turned in by Vidal at the back post.
Credit to Inter, they responded well to such a devastating early setback, with Esteban Cambiasso, ably supported by Palacio, leading the backlash. However, Andrea Stramaccioni’s side would have fallen further behind seven minutes in, had Samir Handanovic not produced a wonderful reaction save to deny Claudio Marchisio, who had met Andrea Pirlo’s sublime through ball on the volley.
As it was, Inter continued to press and they thought they had claimed a deserved equaliser when Palacio nodded home a Cambiasso free kick from wide on the right. However, the striker was deemed fractionally offside, which felt harsh given the nature of the game’s opening goal.
Inter could not find a break, which was underlined again when Antonio Cassano unleashed a terrific curling effort from the edge of the area, only to see the ball drift just wide of the far post with Gianluigi Buffon beaten all ends up.
The Nerazzurri should also have been given a helping hand shortly before the break when Stephan Lichsteiner – already on a booking for jumping into Cambiasso – floored Palacio with a horribly reckless challenge. The Swiss escaped with a stern warning, though, and that enabled Juventus to ensure they reached the interval with their lead intact and 11 men still on the field – with Lichsteiner replaced by Martin Caceres almost immediately.
The Bianconeri made another change during the break, sending Nicklas Bendtner on in place of Vucinic, but it was Inter who looked the more likely to score next, with Palacio blazing over after being slipped in on goal by Diego Milito, before Yuto Nagatomo drew a decent save out of Buffon after cutting in from the left wing.
An equaliser felt inevitable if Inter’s luck would only turn, and it did on 59 minutes when the officials did wonderfully well to spot Marchisio’s slight tug on Milito in the area. The hosts were incensed but the Argentine did not care and he converted the resulting spot-kick with aplomb to finally draw his side level.
The momentum was now all with Inter and they silenced Juventus Stadium when Milito struck again in the 75th minute, firing past Buffon after the goalkeeper had failed to parry Guarin’s well-struck drive to safety.
Led by Andrea Pirlo, the home side tried to rally, but they were stung on the counterattack in the final minute of normal time. Palacio controlled Nagatomo’s clever through ball before prodding it past Buffon, to put the seal on Inter’s ninth successive win in all competitions.