Inter make Serie A title statement as Barella downs Juventus


Soccer Football - Serie A - Inter Milan v Juventus - San Siro, Milan, Italy - January 17, 2021 Inter Milan's Arturo Vidal scores their first goal REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

ROME (Reuters) - Inter Milan's Nicolo Barella scored one goal and set up another to help secure a 2-0 ‘Derby of Italy’ victory over champions Juventus and send his side joint-top of Serie A while putting a major dent in the Turin club's title hopes.

Former Juve midfielder Arturo Vidal scored his first league goal for Inter when he headed in an inviting Barella cross after 12 minutes.

Antonio Conte’s side grabbed a deserved second after the break when Barella raced onto a long Alessandro Bastoni pass and finished clinically into the top corner, after which the victory was never in doubt as Juve failed to threaten a comeback.

It was Conte’s first Serie A win on his fourth attempt against the club he previously represented as a player and coach, and the result leaves Inter level on 40 points with league leaders AC Milan, who visit Cagliari on Monday.

Juventus have a game in hand over Inter but are fifth with 33 points, leaving Andrea Pirlo's side with a lot of ground to make up in their quest for a 10th consecutive Serie A title.

"Juve have won the Scudetto for many years, but we've shown we're at the level to fight for the title," Vidal told Sky Sport.

"This success gives us the confidence to continue working hard and thinking about winning the league. We think we can go all the way."

The match was widely billed as a contest that would be decided by Inter’s Romelu Lukaku or Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo, but it was 23-year-old midfielder Barella who shined brightest.

The Italy international’s teasing cross left Vidal with a simple header from close range to open the scoring.

Barella then released Lukaku on a counter-attack and the Belgian's shot was parried by Wojciech Szczesny before being blazed over on the rebound by Lautaro Martinez.

Juventus approached the match as the team in form after winning three consecutive league games, but Pirlo’s side struggled to break down the home defence and Ronaldo was reduced to speculative efforts from distance.

Barella got his goal when he hared after a 60-metre pass by Bastoni to finish in the 52nd minute, while Martinez was close to making it three when his curled effort flew wide.

Juve finally summoned a chance of note with three minutes remaining when Samir Handanovic produced a one-handed save to keep out a powerful Federico Chiesa effort, but it was too little too late.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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