Juventus bailed out by 7/10 Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala vs. Inter
In a derby to remember, Juventus struck twice in two minutes to defeat Inter Milan 3-2, as luck was on the Old Lady's side after a performance that left a lot to be desired.
Both Inter and Juventus came into the Derby d'Italia knowing that only a win would do to help them achieve their respective objections. Juventus started well, taking control and showing energy and determination and were rewarded with their efforts when Douglas Costa opened the scoring on the 13th minute. Inter looked troubled and went down to 10 men only five minutes later when Matias Vecino earned a second yellow card.
Angry at the referee and desperate to play with pride, Inter came back in the second half and looked determined to wrestle back control of the game and Juve had seemingly switched off, lucky not to have had Miralem Pjanic sent off. With Mauro Icardi grabbing the equaliser and Andrea Barzagli scoring an own goal, the Nerazzurri were firmly in charge.
Despite their numerical superiority, the Old Lady struggled to raise the tempo and create opportunities but Inter's fatigue allowed them the opportunity to build pressure, resulting in two goals in just two minutes to pile the pressure on chasing Napoli.
#Finoallafine is Juve's tag-line, and the Turin giants did indeed fight 'until the end' to secure the win. But barring the result, few should be proud of their performance on the night.
So many, but perhaps nothing has proved as disturbing to watch in recent weeks then Juve's lethargy and lack of determination, switching off when intensity and unity would have secured easy wins. How was Icardi completely forgotten and allowed to score the equaliser? This fight is not over and while the squad is tired and demoralised after their Champions League exit, they must return to playing with concentration and ambition to earn their rewards.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- The need to win is understandable but playing Juan Cuadrado as a right-back was a poor choice by Massimiliano Allegri. The team cannot play with freedom if the defence is so easily penetrated. Moreover, Juve are simply not playing as a unit, either when going forward or at the back and Pjanic should have been taken off earlier. This side should be motivated and hungry and instead, they succumb to mediocrity in the absence of a man like Giorgio Chiellini, one of a few who shows genuine desire to win every match. Allegri must try harder to motivate the squad, but he gets an extra point for bullying and pushing his men after they scored the winner to ensure they remained concentrated until the end.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK, Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Alert to ensure Antonio Candreva's excellent shot from distance didn't cause damage but a little overwhelmed towards the end when he struggled to keep hold of the ball, allowing Inter another chance at a strike.
DF Juan Cuadrado, 6 -- Terrible defensively, from practically the first minute because it's not his role but very good going forward in terms of delivering the perfect passes and unleashing teammates. He did of course score the deflected equaliser to make it 2-2 and he delivered the assist for Costa's opening goal. At the back, he couldn't contain Ivan Perisic and struggled to position his body well enough to close down players.
DF Daniele Rugani, 4 -- He simply doesn't read the game, no intuition and needs constant guidance to ensure he holds the right position. He struggles to impose authority, lead or play proactively. Easily dragged away and overwhelmed which leads to panic. Yet to see how he's ready for this level.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 5 -- A poor performance from the player who scored the own goal to help Inter lead in the game temporarily. Needed to provide his teammates with more guidance. Positioning not as good as we expect from a player of his experience.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- Delivered a delicious ball for Higuain in the second half that wasn't converted. Remained concentrated and determined but could do with improving his accuracy.
MF Sami Khedira, 5 -- This is a challenge the German usually relishes but he didn't impose himself and perhaps, on a physical level, he's simply struggling to perform at such high levels so often. Didn't help provide the support or take advantage of the team's numerical superiority.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 4 -- Should have been sent off, this was a poor performance from the player who needs to pull the strings when the pressure is on and not only in the first half when Inter were struggling to adjust. His forwards tried to make the right runs hoping for the perfect pass but he lost his bearings in the second half. Champions perform under pressure, always.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 -- Good, again. Exploits the right spaces, tries to close down his opponents and thought he scored a goal although it was correctly ruled offside after video review. Dropped off towards the end.
FW Douglas Costa, 6 -- A delightful finish from the Brazilian saw him score the opening goal as he tried to put pressure, pin back Inter and create problems. He may deserve better help but he needs to do better in terms of offering his teammates support in the final third. Can be too individualistic as he attempts to find solutions on his own.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 7 -- Scored the winner which will do much for his confidence, but he's struggling to produce a complete performance as Juve are not playing as a unit in the final third, it seems like it's every man for himself. However, he is truly a leader as he never stops fighting or working to ensure the win.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 5 -- Started well and suffered the foul that led to Vecino's sending off. After that he couldn't really play decisively. He conceded the free kick that led to Icardi's equaliser but deserves credit for playing through a vicious tackle.
FW Paulo Dybala, 7 -- Very good off the bench. Forced the situation initially, making predictable runs but then grew into the game. Accurate and determined, he delivered two assists for both Cuadrado, which led to the Inter own goal, and Higuain in the final minutes of the game and imposed his brilliance to secure the win. More please.
FW Federico Bernardeschi, 6 -- Determined, smart, offers support, tries to intercept. One can only imagine would he would bring to the unit when he's able to play with continuity.
MF Rodrigo Bentancur, N/A -- Not on for long yet so good tactically and plays with such character. One to watch.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.