TURIN – Inter slipped to a 2-0 defeat this evening in Turin during the 166th edition of the most frequently played fixture in Italian football.
It was a hard-fought contest in Week 27 of Serie A 2015/16 but second-half goals from Leonardo Bonucci and then an Alvaro Morata penalty handed victory to the hosts.
Roberto Mancini opted to start with Samir Handanovic in goal; a back-three of Jeison Murillo, Miranda and Juan Jesus; Danilo D'Ambrosio, Felipe Melo, Gary Medel, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Alex Telles in the middle of the park; and Mauro Icardi spearheading the attack with Rodrigo Palacio.
The Nerazzurri began brightly, showing bags of character and occupying the spaces well. However, Juventus looked dangerous on the break and Hernanes forced Handanovic into a fantastic save early on. The Brazilian unleashed from 25-yards and the Slovenian No.1 just managed to get his fingers onto the goal-bound effort, sending it crashing onto the bar.
Juventus followed that up with two more chances, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic both coming close to breaking the deadlock.
Inter reacted well and won a free-kick in the 24th minute. Alex Telles sent a wicked ball into the far post and Alex Sandro had to act decisively, getting in front of D'Ambrosio to head behind with the Italian steadying himself for a simple header into the net.
Moments later, Palacio found some space outside the box and lofted a ball towards Icardi. Unfortunately, the Argentine couldn't sort his feet out and the presence of Andrea Barzagli was enough to put him off. As a result, Inter's skipper couldn't direct his effort on target.
The game was a cagey affair, with tough tackles flying in to and fro in the midfield. The first half ended with a tidy piece of defending from Miranda to steal the ball ahead of Dybala and a Mandzukic header towards his own goal that Gianluigi Buffon had to be smart to deal with.
The Nerazzurri got the second half under way in the worst way imaginable. A Bianconeri free-kick midway inside Inter's half wasn't cleared properly by D'Ambrosio, leaving Bonucci to volley home first time.
Medel was then forced off the pitch with an injury ten minutes into the second half: Adem Ljajic took his place and Inter shifted to a 3-4-1-2.
However, at this point Juventus were only focused on taking the tempo out of the game.
Mancini had to do something to try to liven things up and sent on Ivan Perisic in the 73rd minute for Telles. This signalled another formation change, with the Nerazzurri moving to four at the back with Palacio and Perisic high up on either flank.
There was nothing much of note until the 84th minute when Morata, recently on as a substitute, won a penalty after a duel with Miranda. Arguably a soft decision, as contact was minimal, it ultimately changed little: the Spaniard sent Handanovic the wrong way from the spot to increase Juventus's lead.
There was still time for a well-struck free-kick from Ljajic saved by Buffon and a great chance for Eder to score his first Inter goal after coming on in Icardi's place.
Juventus come away with the victory despite a fairly average performance from the hosts. Inter were unlucky in the incessant rain in Turin but have a chance to make amends in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
JUVENTUS 2-0 INTER (HT: 0-0)
Scorers: Bonucci 47, Morata 85.
JUVENTUS: 1 Buffon; 15 Barzagli, 19 Bonucci, 3 Chiellini (24 Rugani, 35); 26 Lichtsteiner, 6 Khedira (27 Sturaro, 78), 11 Hernanes, 10 Pogba, 12 Alex Sandro; 17 Mandzukic, 21 Dybala (9 Morata, 81).
Subs not used: 25 Neto, 34 Rubinho, 7 Zaza, 16 Cuadrado, 18 Lemina, 20 Padoin, 22 Asamoah, 33 Evra, 37 Pereyra.
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri.
INTER: 1 Handanovic; 24 Murillo, 25 Miranda, 5 Jesus; 33 D'Ambrosio, 83 Felipe Melo, 17 Medel (22 Ljajic, 55), 7 Kondogbia, 12 Telles (44 Perisic, 73); 9 Icardi (23 Eder, 85), 8 Palacio.
Subs not used: 30 Carrizo, 46 Berni, 10 Jovetic, 11 Biabiany, 21 Santon, 27 Gnoukouri, 44 Perisic, 55 Nagatomo, 97 Manaj.
Coach: Roberto Mancini.
Yellow cards: Lichtsteinen 36, Hernanes 45, Jesus 57, Khedira 58.
Additional time: 1+6 minutes.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi.
Assistants: Lorenzo Manganelli and Giulio Dobosz.
Fourth official: Alessandro Giallantini.
Additional assistants: Luca Banti, Nicola Rizzoli.
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