TURIN – Three penalties, two red cards, three VAR interventions. Juventus vs. Inter is never boring. Today’s clash finished 3-2 to the Bianconeri, a result that came about following a series of incidents involving the referee. First, Ronaldo opened the scoring, with the Portuguese man turning in the rebound after seeing his penalty saved by Handanovic. Then, Lukaku converted from the spot, Cuadrado scored with a deflected effort, Chiellini bundled the ball into his own net and Cuadrado found the net once more via another Juventus penalty, which was given following contact between Perisic and Cuadrado in the area. It’s a loss that obviously won’t do Inter any damage: the Nerazzurri remain on 88 points with just one matchday to go – 13 ahead of the Bianconeri.
Despite the fact that Inter achieved their aim two weeks ago, the Champions of Italy wanted to continue picking up points. The Nerazzurri took to the pitch at the Allianz Stadium knowing that the Scudetto shield currently on the Bianconeri shirts would soon be placed on theirs. But the fact that Inter had already won the league wasn’t a valid reason to take the Derby d’Italia lightly. It was a match of high importance for Juventus, who are fighting it out to finish in the top four.
Against Sampdoria and Roma, Inter, free of any worries, kept their foot down on the accelerator. Eight goals in two games and a clear statement of intent: we’re going to keep going right until the very end. And at the Allianz Stadium, neither set of players gave an inch as they battled away and put their bodies on the line, even if the Nerazzurri’s start wasn’t particularly electrifying.
Indeed, Juve were the brighter team early on. The most dominant Nerazzurri figure was Skriniar, who got in the way of opposition shots on more than one occasion. Then, in the 23rd minute, referee Calvarese was summoned by VAR to look at a challenge in the Inter box following a dead ball situation. The incident ended with Darmian being booked for a foul on Chiellini and Juventus being awarded a penalty, which Ronaldo stepped up to take. Handanovic initially saved the spot-kick, but the Portuguese man converted the rebound in much the same way that Ibrahimovic did when Inter played AC Milan earlier on in the season.
A setback that didn't really affect Inter and, certainly, did not change the game: Juve deployed their usual 4-4-2 and Conte’s men stuck with their classic formation. In the 35th minute, the Nerazzurri equalised thanks to a penalty when, chasing a pass, Lautaro was fouled from behind by De Ligt. Calvarese initially gave nothing, but VAR called him over and the penalty, given, was converted by Lukaku, as composed as ever. Juve needed the three points and, despite not imposing themselves on the game too much, took the lead again at the end of the first half, when Cuadrado’s shot from distance deflected off Eriksen. Handanovic was beaten and the Bianconeri went into the break 2-1 up.
After half-time, Inter came out with a clear objective: attack Juve to find the equaliser. The red card for Bentancur on 56 minutes, owing to a second yellow card, made things difficult for Juve. Pirlo looked to defend the lead, with Juve wanting to congest the middle of the park and sit deep. As for Inter, they were camped in the hosts’ half searching for an opening. Vecino’s entrance gave the Bianconeri rearguard some problems, as the Uruguayan looked to impose himself on the game.
Inter did find the leveller after Barella’s beautiful ball towards Lukaku: the Belgian was tightly marked by Chiellini, who inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net. An own goal which was first ruled out by Calvarese, who, however, then gave it after another on-field review. It was similar to a situation a few minutes earlier: Lautaro scored with a brilliant acrobatic effort, but Calvarese had stopped play for alleged contact on Chiellini by Lukaku. The drama was not over: with the score at 2-2, a decisive penalty was given. Cuadrado beat Perisic and went to ground, with the referee pointing for a penalty that was then converted by the Columbian. There were heated protests over the awarding of the spot-kick, with Brozovic booked. He was then sent off for a second yellow and, despite late Inter pressure at the death, the visitors could not find the equaliser.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): 1 Szczesny; 13 Danilo, 4 De Ligt, 3 Chiellini, 12 Alex Sandro; 16 Cuadrado, 30 Bentancur, 25 Rabiot, 22 Chiesa (28 Demiral 70'); 44 Kulusevski (14 McKennie 58'), 7 C. Ronaldo (9 Morata 70').
Substitutes: 31 Pinsoglio, 77 Buffon, 5 Arthur, 8 Ramsey, 10 Dybala, 19 Bonucci, 33 Bernardeschi, 53 Felix Correira.
Coach: Andrea Pirlo.
INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni (8 Vecino 80'); 2 Hakimi, 23 Barella, 77 Brozovic, 24 Eriksen (12 Sensi 73'), 36 Darmian (14 Perisic 46'); 9 Lukaku, 10 Lautaro.
Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 97 Radu, 5 Gagliardini, 13 Ranocchia, 15 Young, 33 D'Ambrosio, 99 Pinamonti.
Coach: Antonio Conte.
Goalscorers: 24' C. Ronaldo (J), 35' Lukaku (I) pen., 45' Cuadrado (J), 83' Chiellini (J) og, 88' Cuadrado (J) pen.
Bookings: Kulusevski (J), Darmian (I), Lautaro (I), Bastoni (I), Chiellini (J), Cuadrado (J)
Sent off: Bentancur (J) 56' for a second bookable offence; Brozovic (I) 92' for a second bookable offence.
Added time: 3' - 4'.
Assistants: Longo, Valeriani.
Fourth Official: Guida.
VAR Assistant: Peretti.