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Late goal sinks Internazionale in 1-0 loss at Juventus

Nerazzurri come up short in Derby d’Italia.

Juventus v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Milan Skriniar (R) of Internazionale fouls Paulo Dybala of Juventus during the Serie A match between Juventus and FC Internazionale at Allianz Stadium on December 7, 2018 in Turin, Italy.
Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

It certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Sime Vrsaljko had a shot blocked. Mauro Icardi nearly found the back of the net a couple of times. Roberto Gagliardini clanked a shot right off the post in the first half.

But, it was a strike by Mario Mandzukic in the 66th minute that led Juventus to a 1-0 win over Inter Milan Friday in the first installment of the Derby d’Italia in Turin.

”We did quite well in the game, the team played some great football but we got things wrong at certain times which cannot happen against Juventus,” said Inter manager Luciano Spalletti, in his post-match news conference.

The win kept The Old Lady’s unbeaten record in Serie A intact, while Inter Milan failed to gain any ground on Napoli in second. In fact, Napoli could pull farther ahead of Inter as they host Frosinone Saturday. Regardless of how AC Milan does this weekend against Torino, Inter will remain in third-place heading into next weekend.

Inter controlled — and had its best chances — in the early stages of the first half, especially with Gagliardini’s efforts off a ball from Icardi inside the area.

”Obviously, it would have made a world of difference had we taken the lead, but we misplaced too many passes,” Spalletti said. “There was a chance where we allowed them to recover and get back in line because we didn’t take enough care of the ball.”

Out of many chances for Inter, Gagliardini’s proved to be the best of the match.

“I wanted to shoot across the goalkeeper and managed to do so, I just didn’t have that little bit of luck perhaps,” Gagliardini said, following the match. “Maybe I should have surprised the goalkeeper and not shot across him.”

But, after that, Juventus turned up the heat as Mandzukic nearly put the Bianconeri on the board with a header that was pushed away by Samir Handanovic in the 35th minute.

In the second half, Icardi and Matteo Politano nearly connected after Blaise Matuidi gave away the ball in the Juventus penalty area, however Politano was unable to connect.

It was about eight minutes after Spalletti took Politano off in favor of Borja Valero that Mandzukic found the back of the net off a cross from former Inter player Joao Cancelo.

In the 74th minute, Ivan Perisic made his presence felt with a blast on a free kick, but it was deflected out for a corner.

Lautaro Martinez and Keita Balde — the other two second-half substitutions for Inter — nearly combined to equalize in the 80th minute, but Keita’s shot was blocked away by Giorgio Chiellini.

Martinez had one last shot in extra time after Cancelo failed to clear out danger, but the Argentinian’s delivery went wide of the net.

“We managed the game in the right way for long spells, but we’re still too careless at times and sloppy,” Spalletti said.

Now, the Nerazzurri have a quick turnaround as they prepare to host PSV Eindhoven in the final Group B match of the Champions League Tuesday. It is a must-win for Inter as they are locked in a battle with Tottenham Hotspur for the second and final spot out of the group into the knockout round. Inter also have to hope Barcelona defeat Tottenham at Camp Nou to advance.

The Nerazzurri will remain at home the following Saturday when they return to Serie A play and host Udinese.

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