It was one of the most important matches of the season for our team, not only because we were playing against our most hated rivals - yes, we hate them more than Milan - but we were fighting for a chance to play in the Europa League next year too. The thing that makes this already bitter loss even more difficult to swallow, is that we gifted it to them without making them earning it even a bit. Our stupidity matched their innate dishonesty and because of that we totally deserved this defeat.
With Guarin out for a season ending injury and Hernanes disqualified after picking up his fourth yellow last week against his former team Lazio, Mancini had to start a very young midfield with Medel, Brozovic and Kovacic, while Shaqiri returned to action in his old role behind the strikers. Allegri instead decided to make more changes to his usual squad since his team played on Tuesday against Real Madrid and will be on the pitch again on Wednesday against Lazio in the Coppa Italia final, giving the opportunity to his most important players to rest for this meaningless match.
The game started on a very high pace, with Icardi and Morata almost scoring on their first chances, but the Nerazzuro was denied by Storari and the Spanish hit the outside of the net with his shot. Our only goal came just 8 minutes into the match, when Brozovic fired a shot from outside the box that would have ended just wide, but Icardi, who scores every time he plays against Juventus, accidentally deflected it in the back of the net.
We weren't satisfied by that goal alone and we continued to push hard to get another as soon as possible, but in order to do that we exposed us to their counter-attacks and in particular Morata's speed and dribbling skills caused us troubles, but Handanovic denied him the joy of scoring - not for too long though - with a great save on a powerful left-footed shot.
Lichtsteiner wasn't in great form today and made some huge errors, in particular when he tried to clear the ball from his box with a headed pass but he ended up gifting it to Palacio who attacked the ball and shot it in a heartbeat, but Storari was ready and saved it with his fists. The Swiss made other mistakes in a span of few minutes, but unfortunately our strikers weren't ready to take advantage of them to increase our advantage on the opposition.
As always happens against Juventus, ambiguous calls by the referee go in their favor and this time it wasn't different. Five minutes before halftime Shaqiri did the only notable thing of his game hitting the crossbar with a curling shot from outside the box, Brozovic was in the right spot on the ricochet and he sent the ball behind Storari but the linesman promptly raised his flag and the goal was waived off, but it should have counted.
Here is where our stupidity begins.
Just two minutes after Brozovic's nullified goal, Medel did what we haven't done in a while - and we were more than happy without doing it. The Chilean made a terrible back pass to Vidic who was forced to chase the ball towards our box, but Matri, who was pressing him, breezed past him like a Ferrari would do against a Fiat Panda and gained possession of the sphere. Then the Serbian decided it was time to complete what Medel started and took Matri down inside the box:. The referee fairly awarded Juventus the penalty, converted by Marchisio soon thereafter, and spared Vidic the red card he would have deserved only showing him the yellow one.
The second half was definitely not as entertaining as the first one. Inter lost all the confidence showed at the beginning of the match and Juve had to do just the minimum required to repel the opponents' attacks.
Some notable plays before the determining goal came from Morata, who failed to convert an easy headed shot from very close range on a Lichtsteiner accurate cross, and D'Ambrosio, who almost made the goal of his career on a wonderful Kovacic's long pass, trying to find the back of the net with a bycycle kick that ended just few inches high from the crossbar.
In the 78th minute Allegri made the substitution that decided the match, replacing Pereyra with Paul Pogba. The French wasn't in his best form today, but our players had so much fear of him that they always challenged him at least with two men, leaving other players free to do what they wanted.
The last goal of the match came just 7 minutes before the 90th: three Inter players were on Pogba trying to avoid that the ball reached him and they left Morata - who just one second before was lying on the grass, faking an injury - free to hit the ball. His shot was crappy though, but Handanovic, who was almost perfect before this episode, unexpectedly missed the slow ball which bounced on his hip and then into goal.
2 minutes later, Buffon disguised as Storari denied Inter the game-tying goal with two miraculous saves, first on Palacio, who made his way inside the box with a beautiful dribbling and then on Icardi who was the quickest to attack the ball after the first deflection by the keeper.
The only real good thing to note about this dumb match was the way Kovacic played, he looked really sharp and focused all the time. He made some great plays and he was also extremely accurate with his passing, completing 86 of his 92 attempted passes (93% success rate). He played like we expect him to play more often than not and showed us why there are lots of rumours of world-class teams on his trails. I must admit that I unconditionally love him with his always blank face and his prodigious first-touches, like the one below.
Inter's European hopes are almost gone now with this defeat: Sampdoria, which is in 6th place, are 2 points ahead of us and the 7th placed Genoa have just one point more than us, but they have yet to play this week. With only two games remaining to play it's very improbable that we make it to the 6th place, but we will face Genoa next week and given the erratic period Sampdoria is going through anything is possible.