Alvaro Morata was the hero again for Juventus as a goalkeeping gaffe from Samir Handanovic handed the Serie A champions a 2-1 victory in Saturday’s Derby d’Italia.
Spain international Morata scored the decisive goal in Juve’s 1-1 draw at Real Madrid on Wednesday as they progressed to the final of the UEFA Champions League thanks to a 3-2 aggregate victory.
And the striker atoned for a glaring miss at the start of the second half to settle the contest at San Siro, albeit with a helping hand from Handanovic who allowed Morata’s weak effort to bounce over him.
Juve made seven changes to the side that played Real, as the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal were all rested with one eye on Wednesday’s rearranged Coppa Italia final against Lazio.
The makeshift XI started on the back foot and Inter deservedly took the lead inside 10 minutes when Marcelo Brozovic’s long-range strike was diverted in by Mauro Icardi.
Roberto Mancini’s men came desperately close to a second when Xherdan Shaqiri rattled the crossbar and they were dealt a sucker punch before the break when Claudio Marchisio kept his cool from the spot after Nemanja Vidic chopped down Alessandro Matri.
Worse was to come for Inter with Morata’s 83rd-minute winner and defeat strikes a huge blow to their hopes of sneaking into the Europa League next term.
Juve’s much-changed side began sluggishly and Inter were rewarded for enterprising early efforts when Brozovic’s 25-yard effort clipped Icardi’s chest and nestled in the bottom left-hand corner.
The visitors sought a swift response. Morata drove at the Inter defence and hit a wicked left-foot shot that Handanovic expertly kept out of the top right-hand corner.
Marco Storari was then called into action at the other end as he got down well to Rodrigo Palacio’s well-struck 10-yard effort after pouncing on a poor Juve clearance.
Inter’s pressure continued and Shaqiri bent a wonderful left-foot shot onto the crossbar from the edge of the box, Brozovic tucked away the rebound but was flagged offside.
The hosts’ luck was out again four minutes before the break when Vidic could only foul Matri after being outpaced and Marchisio duly placed the resulting penalty into the bottom left-hand corner.
Morata missed two great chances at the start of the second half, first racing free down the left channel only to poke wide inside the area, before inexplicably heading Stephan Lichtsteiner’s right-wing cross wide at the back post with the goal gaping.
The midweek hero’s frustrations grew as he tried his luck again with a 30-yard drive that cleared the crossbar, but Morata could finally smile with seven minutes to go as his bobbling shot crept in to provide Juventus with even more momentum heading to the Olimpico in midweek.
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