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Conte revels in Juventus triumph

Antonio Conte believes Juventus’ 2-1 Serie A win over Inter on Saturday is further proof of their growth in recent months.

The reigning champions grabbed an early lead via Fabio Quagliarella before Rodrigo Palacio restored parity after the break.

However, Alessandro Matri eventually helped Juventus to the three points with his goal on the hour mark at the Giuseppe Meazza.

“Today we have taken another step toward the finish line. We still have eight games to go, though, and the teams behind us are ready to take advantage if we slip up,” Conte said.

“We got a great result against a superb team. Inter beat us at home and they drew and won against AC Milan. They can beat any team and our win shows that we have grown as a team. We put in a great performance.”

Looking ahead to the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Conte said: “We are travelling to Munich full of enthusiasm, knowing that we did what we had to do in the league.

“We want to keep our Champions League dream alive and see at what level we are. We go into the game without fear. We want to find out how big the gap with the European top is.”

Inter counterpart Andrea Stramaccioni, meanwhile, branded their defeat to Juventus in the Derby d’Italia match as sinful.

The coach cited Inter’s profligacy and the effect of Quagliarella’s early strike as the main causes of their defeat.

“Quagliarella’s early goal cut us down,” Stramaccioni said. “We had a few chances through Palacio and (Antonio) Cassano in the first half but failed to score.

“It is undeniable that our intensity rose in the second half, though. We forced Juve to retreat but their second goal came during our best spell. It was a sin.”

Stramaccioni maintained that his side must remain motivated and recognised that the game was an entertaining spectacle but expressed his disappointment at the result.

“We must not change our objectives (for the rest of the season). We are pleased with our performance. It was a good match and in the second half we played very well against the best team in Italy.

“There is still a sour taste in my mouth because we came within touching distance of a point. We did not deserve to lose, but you have to respect the result on the pitch.”

Stramaccioni highlighted one positive aspect in particular for Inter – the bright performance and future of January signing Mateo Kovacic.

“Kovacic is the future of Inter’s midfield,” he added. “He is growing and I have great confidence in his ability.”

Sat 30 March, 2013
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