TURIN: Juan Cuadrado scored twice as Juventus kept their Champions League qualification hopes alive with a 3-2 ‘Derby of Italy’ victory over Serie A champions Inter Milan yesterday despite spending most of the second half with 10 men.
The result lifted Andrea Pirlo’s side into fourth place with one game remaining, level on 75 points with AC Milan in third.
However, Napoli will knock the Turin club back into fifth if they beat Fiorentina on Sunday and Milan will be assured of a top-four finish if they beat Cagliari, thanks to their better head-to-head record against Juve.
“It was a difficult game against a great team like Inter. Even with a man down, we had to get the job done, make sacrifices, and I think that we got the result as a team,” Cuadrado told Sky Italia.
Both sides were awarded first-half penalties in a game dominated by VAR decisions. Cristiano Ronaldo scored on the rebound to put Juve ahead after his spot-kick was saved, and Romelu Lukaku scored his penalty for Inter soon after.
Juve regained the lead on the brink of halftime through a deflected Cuadrado strike, but the hosts were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Rodrigo Bentancur picked up a second yellow.
Inter drew level through a Giorgio Chiellini own goal and Cuadrado responded with the winning penalty in the 88th minute. There was still time for Marcelo Brozovic to be sent off for the visitors for a second booking.
Inter ended Juve’s nine-year stranglehold of the Serie A title with four games to spare and had the chance to land a huge blow to their rivals’ top-four hopes.
But Juve took the lead when Chiellini was wrestled to the ground at a corner and won a penalty following a VAR review. The spot-kick was saved, but Ronaldo tapped in the rebound.
Inter drew level when Matthijs de Ligt was judged to have fouled Lautaro Martinez in the box after a VAR review, and Lukaku converted the resulting penalty.
Juve edged back in front deep in first-half stoppage time when a powerful Cuadrado shot took a deflection and flew past Handanovic.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men on the 55th minute after Bentancur tripped Lukaku to earn a second yellow, and Pirlo decided to take Ronaldo off for the final quarter of the match in a bid to see out the game.
The match burst into life in the final 10 minutes. Chiellini bundled a cross into his own net but the goal was disallowed for a foul, only for the decision to be overturned following a VAR review.
Three minutes later, Cuadrado was tripped by Ivan Perisic to earn the third penalty of the game and the Colombian slotted it home before Inter’s night got worse when Brozovic picked up a second yellow for a clumsy challenge.