Mattia Bonetto’s 26th-minute strike dealt Fabio Grosso’s Primavera an early blow in their two-legged Coppa Italia final with Inter, forcing them to head to the San Siro in six days’ time with a comeback in their sights following this evening’s one-goal reverse at Juventus Stadium.
A late first-half flurry of Bianconeri chances failed to yield the response Grosso’s charges feel they would have merited, while Guido Vadala, one of the stand-out Juventus performers on the night, will count himself extremely unlucky not to have restored parity when his stinging shot bounced off the crossbar inside the opening flourishes of the restart.
Undeterred, Juventus kept pushing for a way back into the affair but ultimately found themselves unable to unlock an Inter defence that successfully held back the tides of black and white shirts charging towards it for much of the evening.
Cheered on by an impressive 20,000-strong crowd at Juventus Stadium, the Bianconeri Primavera began brightly and took the game to Inter with some impressive attacking play inside the opening 10 minutes. Vadala and Andrea Favilli fashioned the hosts’ first chances on goal, both shooting wide following a solid build-up through midfield.
The Nerazzurri, led by coach Stefano Vecchi, gently eased their way into the encounter and looked to ask questions of the Juventus rearguard down the right flank, from which Bonetto’s dangerous low centre was cleared before causing any trouble for Emil Audero.
And it was to be the visitors who edged their noses in front on 26 minutes when, having failed to clear their lines in the final third on two separate occasions, the Bianconeri were punished by Bonetto’s driving run and finish.
A steady recovery saw Grosso’s young guns threaten Inter’s goal four times in as many minutes as they upped the ante ahead of the half-time break.
First up was Gabriele Bove’s free-kick that dropped just wide of the mark on 36 minutes, closely followed by a Guido Vadala tap-in, correctly chalked off for offside. Grigoris Kastanos then dragged a shot wide of goal from a promising position, before an incredible Bright Gyamfi block on the line denied Vadala what looked to be a certain equaliser.
Fresh from a rousing Grosso half-time pep talk, the Bianconeri commenced the second half with a spring in their step and might well have drawn level through two efforts in quick succession, Favilli testing Andrei Radu’s reflexes from a tight angle before Vadala saw a fine strike rattle agonisingly back off the woodwork with 51 minutes played.
The physically imposing frame of Favilli remained at the centre of the action and could have snatched the goal his endeavour merited just three minutes later, only for Radu to block his scuffed shot after Roman Macek had slid the ball across the face of goal.
The second-half introductions of Alessio Di Massimo and Oumar Toure at the expense of Vadala and Bove respectively gave Juventus fresh legs with which to continue their pursuit of an equaliser, but when Yoan Severin’s effort flashed inches wide of the post on 84 minutes, one could perhaps sense that tonight just wasn’t to be.
An inevitable sense of disappointment will be felt by Grosso’s side, who deserved so much more from a game that was, for the vast majority, a display of one-way traffic from those in black and white.
They will be hoping Lady Luck is a little kinder to them when they seek to overturn Inter’s slender advantage in next Wednesday’s second-leg at the San Siro.