05.02.2017 23:04 - in: Match report S

    Cuadrado cracker clinches Derby d’Italia victory

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    The Bianconeri beat Inter 1-0 at Juventus Stadium thanks to Juan Cuadrado’s wonder goal on the stroke of half-time

    The Bianconeri move six points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand after a dramatic 1-0 victory over Inter on Sunday night at Juventus Stadium.

    Always a standout fixture in the Serie A calendar, this particular Derby d’Italia certainly didn’t disappoint. Played at over 100 miles per hour with chances carved out at a rate of knots, the game was ultimately decided by a moment of sheer brilliance when Juan Cuadrado unleashed a stunning 30-yard strike into the top corner moments before half-time.

    Dangerous opponents at the best of times, Inter played their part in making tonight’s one of the toughest contests at the Stadium this season, but they could not break down the Old Lady’s defence, as Massimiliano Allegri’s men saw out a third straight clean sheet to maintain their 100% home record in the league this term and establish a position of considerable strength ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Crotone.

    Juventus certainly had to dig deep against the Nerazzurri in order to seal their latest victory – one they were determined to clinch from the word go. A bright beginning yielded its first goal scoring opportunity after just two minutes when Paulo Dybala’s flying scissor kick was saved by Samir Handanovic and the move would be a sure sign of things to come as the hosts kept up the highest of tempos full of free-flowing football that had the Stadium rocking from start to finish.

    With 12 minutes on the clock, Dybala came even closer to finding a breakthrough, as he wrapped his lethal left foot around the ball and sent it crashing off the crossbar with Handanovic beaten all ends up.

    Coming into the encounter on the back of seven straight wins, Inter began to show just why they were Serie A’s form team before kick-off with some pressure of their own, Roberto Gagliardini hooking over the bar and seeing a close-range header saved by Gianluigi Buffon either side of Joao Mario’s powerful, low drive that flew inches wide of the post.

    Kept quiet thus far, Gonzalo Higuain had his chance to open the scoring on the half-hour mark, but he dragged wide after Alex Sandro pulled the ball back for him in a move that resembled the pair’s neat link-up for the first goal against Sassuolo the previous weekend.

    The end-to-end action was at its intense best in a two-minute period in which Buffon palmed away Ivan Perisic’s header, Mario Mandzukic nodded agonisingly wide of the upright and Mauro Icardi’s flick from a cross came equally close to ending up inside Buffon’s far post.

    The highlight of the half was yet to come, however, Cuadrado sending a 30-yard screamer into the top corner with what will be a sure contender for goal of the season – a moment that sent the crowd wild. Among the ecstatic cheers, it was easy to forget that Handanovic had just tipped Miralem Pjanic’s pinpoint free-kick on to the crossbar a matter of seconds earlier.

    Juve had their lead in time for the interval and they were in the mood to build upon it early in the second period too, Handanovic getting low down to his left to block Pjanic’s side-footed shot from the edge of the area.

    While the visitors pushed with purpose for an equaliser, it was the Bianconeri who still created the more dangerous chances, as Handanovic had to bat away Higuain’s strong shot on the angle before parrying Mandzukic’s bullet header from point-blank range moments later.

    Inter would be reduced to ten men deep into injury-time, Perisic the man sent off, but nonetheless this was a match that had captured the crowd’s imagination right up until the final whistle and ultimately sees Juve marching on confidently to their midweek clash in Calabria.

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