Paulo Dybala’s late penalty earned Juventus a crucial point in the Derby d’Italia, cancelling out Edin Dzeko’s early goal for a 1-1 draw that suited neither side in Serie A action on Sunday.
The intervention of VAR handed Juventus a late lifeline in a gritty, physical game with Denzel Dumfries adjudged to have fouled Alex Sandro just inside the box. It was not a decision that went down well with Simone Inzaghi, who found himself sent off by Maurizio Mariani for his furious reaction to the spot kick being awarded against his side.
In truth he might wonder whether more could have been done to secure the points after Dzeko had opened the scoring in the 17th minute, his seventh goal in eight Serie A games. From that moment on Inter sat back, inviting pressure on themselves that became intolerable after the introduction of Dybala and Federico Chiesa.
The draw leaves Inter seven points off leaders AC Milan and Napoli with Juventus a further three back. Even with 29 games to go those are sizeable margins to make up by sides who have struggled to show the consistency that their rivals for the Scudetto have.
Massimilliano Allegri had opted to match up with Inter’s 3-5-2 from the outset but if anything that served to highlight how effectively Inzaghi’s players were putting it into practice. They could swiftly switch the ball from one flank to another, drawing pressure from the visitors and springing the ball across field. Free scoring though they have been so far this season the champions were not creating all that many chances against Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci but they were controlling the territory and possession.
Being in the right place rather suited Hakan Calhanoglu, whose shot from just outside the box deflected off Manuel Locatelli and flew against the junction of post and crossbar. Wojciech Szczesny had no chance as the ball cannoned back to the waiting Dzeko. Putting the ball into an empty net was not as easy as it might look on paper but getting his boot up to karate kick height was perhaps easier said than done but the Bosnian did so to give Inter a lead they could defend.
Juve might point to the fact that they were a man down as Inter took the lead, Federico Bernadeschi off the pitch with a shoulder injury that saw him replaced by Rodrigo Bentacur. It was fair to question whether Federico Chiesa might have been the better option, either from the outset or as that first change. With either of the Federicos Juventus seemed to lack many options to beat a man, instead much of their play was in front of the home team’s defense.
Only when Juan Cuadrado drove wide did Samir Handanovic really look to be struggling. Inter themselves were also largely limited to pot shots and half chances; Dzeko did well to get ahead of Leonardo Bonucci early in the second half but he was always going to struggle to direct a header on Szczesny’s goal. They, however, had the advantage of the early goal.
Not until just after the hour mark, when Allegri turned to Dybala and Chiesa, did the game really open up. Moments earlier Ivan Perisic had driven just wide at one end, Alvaro Morata flicking a difficult header just off goal at the other. With two vibrant, direct attackers added to the side Juventus began to move the ball quicker, drawing fouls and finding space in behind.
One of those gave Dybala the chance to strike at goal, a dangerous effort that dipped right in front of Handanovic. Meanwhile Chiesa fizzed at both ends, disrupting an Alexis Sanchez counter one minute having beaten the Inter defense down the left earlier.
As the minute ticked by it was all Inter could do to string two passes together, dropping further and further into their own area. That was punished when VAR spotted what had looked to be a relatively minor infraction by Dumfries. Still he had connected with Sandro and could have few complaints when Mariani pointed to the spot, allowing Dybala a chance he was never likely to miss. His 18th goal from 20 penalties ensured a customarily controversial ending to the resumption of this great rivalry with both teams leaving the pitch unhappy with their lot.