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Conte praises Juve stalwarts

Juventus coach Antonio Conte hailed ‘extra weapons’ Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero after they helped clinch victory over Inter Milan.

The untouchable duo played significant roles in a 2-0 victory in Serie A, one that keeps Juve within four points of leaders AC Milan while continuing Inter’s miserable run.

Buffon pulled off a string of world-class saves to keep Juve in the match in the first half, before substitute Del Piero scored the decisive goal in the 71st minute, extending his team’s unbeaten run in the league to 30 games.

“In my view Del Piero and Buffon are our extra weapons,” Conte said.

“At this moment (Del Piero) is in good shape and therefore he’s playing. He also played in the Coppa and he repaid me with an excellent performance.

“When he gets the ball between his feet, it’s difficult for him to not get it in the net. We have a very honest rapport and he knows what I think.”

An emotional Conte shed a tear after the final whistle of the ‘Derby d’Italia’ following the passing of his aunt in midweek, but could not hide his delight at a precious three points gained against a bitter rival.

“We had to win tonight and it’s a wonderful campaign. We also wanted to give our fans this moment of satisfaction in the Derby d’Italia.”

Despite going undefeated, Juventus still have plenty of work to do if they are to hunt down a rampant AC Milan with nine games remaining.

“It (the title) is in AC Milan’s hands. They are proving they have such strength in depth that they can continue to do well even through injuries.”

Bitterly disappointed Inter coach Claudio Ranieri was left to pick up the pieces of a sixth league defeat in ten games after his side blew numerous chances to open the scoring in the first half.

Inter are now almost certainly out of the running for a Champions League spot, while a Europa League place is looking increasingly unlikely, with the club languishing in eighth spot.

Ranieri’s future at the club is looking increasingly bleak.

“It’s true the gap is widening from the European places and there are fewer games left to catch up, but we will not give in,” he said.

“My future? I feel relaxed, you know how it is … we are doing everything we possibly can, the president knows that and we have to end the season well.”

Mon 26 March, 2012
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