Juventus 0-0 (2-1 on agg.) Inter Milan
The Old Lady is in the Coppa Italia final once again. Juventus held Inter Milan to a goalless draw at home in their semi-final second leg as they went through 2-1 on aggregate.
In a match that featured few great goalscoring chances, Cristiano Ronaldo created the best ones, only to be denied by Inter keeper Samir Handanovic. But in the end, Juve did not need their star man to score as their resurgent defence kept Inter at bay.
Juve will now play in their sixth cup final in the last seven seasons as they await the winner of the Napoli-Atalanta semi-final.
Highlights of the game
Inter caught Juventus cold in the first leg as they took an early lead after just nine minutes through Lautaro Martinez. And it was almost deja vu all over again as Martinez had the first big chance 10 minutes into the second leg.
Achraf Hakimi made a terrific run down the right and delivered a dangerous ball into the box. Merih Demiral, who was getting the start with Leonardo Bonucci out, could only deflect the ball toward Martinez, who went to ground as Federico Bernardeschi went to close him down.
But the referee forcefully waved off the penalty protests by the Inter players, and he was proven correct as replays showed Lautaro stubbing his toe on the turf as he missed his kick.
Romelu Lukaku had his first real chance of the match in the 26th minute as he was unable to direct Christian Eriksen’s free kick on target. He then pulled another shot wide after getting in behind the Juve backline.
It took Juventus until the 42nd minute to get their first notable chance on goal in the first half, and it predictably fell to Cristiano Ronaldo. However, his shot from a tight angle was well-saved by the feet of Inter’s Samir Handanovic.
Inter continued to look the more threatening side at the start of the second half. Hakimi had an ambitious left-footed attempt that sailed over the bar. Fellow wing-back Matteo Darmian then missed badly with his shot despite being completely unmarked.
Juventus very nearly gifted Inter a goal as they turned the ball over at the edge of their own box. Luckily for them, 43-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was alert to the danger and quickly got out to challenge the on-rushing Lautaro, who was subsequently called for a foul.
Ronaldo then had a hat-trick of shots on goal within a 10-minute stretch starting on the hour mark. The first one he skied well over the bar. The second was a better chance which he fired straight at Handanovic. And on the third, he dribbled his way right through a trio of Inter defenders and delivered a powerful shot, but Handanovic was again equal to it.
Despite needing a goal to go through, Inter couldn’t muster any great chances on goal in the last half-hour as Juve held on to make another trip to the final.
Inter, who were the side in desperate need to score in this match, had the clear upper hand in terms of total shots, 21-12. However, Juventus still had them beat in terms of shots on target, 4-3, with Ronaldo singlehandedly creating the most notable Coppa Italia 2021 highlights of the match.
The Lukaku-Martinez striker partnership struggled to create much against a Juventus defence that was without a couple of regular starters, which was disappointing on their part.
Speaking of the Juve defence, they have now kept six clean sheets in seven games in all competitions since losing to Inter in the first Derby d’Italia of the season.
As SBOTOP highlighted in its preview of this second leg, Juve were more than willing to sit back deeper and hold onto their first-leg advantage with that in-form defence, and they succeeded as Inter were unable to break them down.
Up next for Juventus is a Serie A matchup against Napoli at the Stadio Diego Maradona on the weekend. That could very well be a preview of the Coppa Italia final if Napoli can prevail over Atalanta in their semi-final. It would also be a rematch of last year’s final, which Napoli won on penalties.
But whomever Juve face in the final, the Coppa Italia 2021 odds will have them favoured to win at San Siro.
As for Inter, after getting knocked out of the Coppa as well as Europe, they now have just the league as their only possible source of silverware this season.
And they have a crucial next couple of games ahead on that front. First, they have a tough match against Lazio, the most in-form side in Serie A at the moment with six straight wins. Then they face leaders AC Milan for the second Milan derby of the season, which could potentially decide the Serie A title race.
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