LATE STERLING GOAL LEADS INTER OVER JUVE
Super Sub: Sterling's injury time goal after subbing on was the difference.
Fresh off of their big-spending transfer deadline day and massive 2-0 victory over AC Milan, Inter Milan were thrown a second straight stiff test in the shape of Juventus. Now led by the fiery Diego Simeone, Juventus had managed to hold Inter to their only draw of the season with a 0-0 draw at the Juventus Stadium, and now the Nerazzurri were out for vengeance.
With Rogerio still recovering from injury and Yann M'Vila and Omar Carrasco suspended, three players got a surprise look-in to the squad; Adam Maher started in central midfield alongside Andrea Poli, while Jan Kirchhoff was plugged into defensive midfield and Gino Peruzzi made only his 4th Serie A appearance at right back.
New €35M attacker Lucas Andersen was given a start on the right wing, and Englishman Raheem Sterling was relegated to a spot on the bench. It was a huge game for Andersen's club debut, and the fans had packed the stadium to see their new man in action against one of their rivals in the historic Dery d'Italia.
As expected, perhaps, Inter Milan were the more dominant sides in the opening exchanges. Philippe Coutinho saw his free kick crash off of the crossbar and Simone Pierguidi's header ricocheted off of a defender, off of the post, and wide just 25 minutes in. Juventus got a bit sturdier after that, not allowing Inter time nor space in the final third.
After half time, Bergomi had replaced Adam Maher, Philippe Coutinho, and Ademilson, putting in an entirely new front three of Raheem Sterling, Mattia Destro, and Lorenzo Insigne, pushing Andersen back into central midfield. This move paid instant dividends.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Inter had been pushing forward to find the winner that their fans expected in every match. The Danish midfielder managed to ghost around his man and whip in a delightful cross. Davide Astori missed the header to clear, and the ball fell to the feet of Sterling, only for the pacy young winger to volley straight at Viviano.
Two minutes into injury time, Sterling made up for his error. Mattia Destro's cross from the right had found Insigne, but the diminutive Italian striker's shot had been well blocked by Giorgio Chiellini. Sterling was the first to react, however, and the Englishman toe-poked the ball home, sending the Inter fans into raptures.
"We never give up," said Sterling after the match. "No matter what the score is, no matter who we are playing, we play to the final whistle; it's the sign of a champion."
Giuseppe Bergomi echoed his player's thoughts, telling the media, "It's the sign of a champion. The match is not over until the final whistle is blown, and we always keep fighting until that whistle, because we know we can find a way to grab three points."
When quizzed on Philippe Coutinho, who reportedly had picked up a knock, Bergomi replied, "He's twisted his ankle and he'll miss two or three weeks, but it's nothing too bad."
Inter Milan are now a full 20 points clear in Serie A on 64 points (21-1-0). Juventus are a distant second place on 40 points (13-5-4), with Atalanta close behind on 43 (12-7-3). The Nerazzurri travel to Pescara at 7:30 PM on Wednesday to continue their potential championship caliber campaign.