A header from the Uruguayan defender and a delightful first-time finish by the veteran Italian striker gave the Old Lady a valuable win in their hunt to chase down leader AC Milan at the top of the Serie A table.
With Juventus fresh off the back of that Coppa Italia semifinal aggregate win over AC Milan on Tuesday, it was clear to see that Antonio Conte’s men were brimming with confidence, and started the game as such.
The Bianconeri dominated possession in the early exchanges, but were nearly made to rue their lack of chances created on 13 minutes. Maicon made a trademark run down the right, cut inside, found the run of Diego Milito, and played the Argentine forward in on goal. Unfortunately for the Nerazzurri though, the former Genoa striker couldn’t make the most of the opportunity, and fired his shot straight at Gianluigi Buffon.
Conte’s men still had the monopoly on possession, but were now starting to create chances at goal, and they perhaps should have opened up their account on two occasions midway through the half. First, Alessandro Matri had a header from eight yards saved by Cesar, and then just a few minutes later, a low cross from the right found Matri again, but the Italian forward could only hit his shot over the bar.
Claudio Ranieri’s side slowly started to impose itself on the game; putting pressure on Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Vidal. And it was that leg-work that almost opened Inter’s account for the night. Dejan Stankovic dispossessed Marchisio in the center circle, and played a long, diagonal ball to Milito. The Argentine forward brought the ball down superbly, took it into the box, and fired a shot straight at Buffon, only for the ball to arrive back at his feet for a second attempt. Regrettably for the Nerazzurri, that effort was also missed, and the sides went into the break all square.
The second half began in almost the exact opposite way to the first, with Inter controlling the play but struggling to create any clear-cut chances. Diego Milito was, as usual, full of running, but the midfield four for Ranieri’s side was finding it difficult to pick out the Argentine forward’s darting runs.
That lack of incisiveness came back to haunt Inter on 57 minutes. A corner from the right was whipped in by Pirlo; the ball found Caceres, who, unmarked inside the six-yard box, headed home easily for his first Serie A goal of the season.
The Nerazzurri were desperately pushing for an equalizer by this point, but all that pressing left them exposed at the back. Something which Juventus took full advantage of on 70 minutes. A delightful through ball by Mirko Vucinic found the run of Del Piero, who, just inside the area, gently slipped it past the on-rushing Cesar to make it 2-0.
Late chances for Fabio Quagliarella and Giorgio Chiellini almost made the final scoreline even more resounding, but Conte’s men had to settle for 2-0, as they closed the gap on leader AC Milan back to four points.