Juve storm into Coppa Italia finals
Juventus booked a place in the Coppa Italia final after holding visitors Inter Milan to a 0-0 draw in their semi-final, second leg on Tuesday, sealing a date with either Napoli or Atalanta with a 2-1 success on aggregate.
Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez had chances to get Inter back in the tie in the first half, while Cristiano Ronaldo came closest to adding to Juve’s aggregate advantage in the opening period, having scored both of their goals in the first leg.
After the break, Ronaldo turned on the style and was only denied another goal in the tie by two fine saves from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Inter threw everything at Juventus late on but veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon and his defence stood firm to secure a spot in the showpiece match against the winners of Wednesday’s semi, with Atalanta hosting Napoli after a 0-0 draw in the first leg.
With the away goals rule in place, Inter had to go for it and with Martinez and Lukaku in the starting lineup Antonio Conte’s side certainly had the firepower to trouble the hosts.
But 43-year-old Buffon, used only sparingly by Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo this season, was rarely tested, despite Christian Eriksen putting plenty of dangerous crosses into the box.
Inter committed more players forward as the match wore on, but the pressure was soaked up by the home defence as the visitors finished the match without scoring for the seventh successive trip to Juventus in all competitions.
The result booked the Turin side a 20th Coppa Italia final appearance on May 19, with a re-run of last season’s showpiece - when Napoli beat Juve on penalties - still possible.
‘Every match is different and we prepare in a different way,’ Pirlo said.
‘Inter have almost no shots on goal and we had opportunities, we are very satisfied.
‘Since the beginning of the season we have been defending with 4-4-2 but we play in a totally different way.
‘Based on how our opponents come to pick us up, we decide on how to get out, it’s only the defence that remains 4-4-2.’
The victory, becoming the ninth boss to reach the Coppa Italia final in his debut season, drew comparisons to former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri. For Pirlo, he was flattered by such comparisons.
‘It’s nice to hear,’ he said. ‘If I have to win what he won, you can also call me Allegrian.’ -AFP