Sloppy and care­less

Spal­letti fumes af­ter In­ter’s Serie A ti­tle hopes fade

The Star Malaysia - - Sport -

MI­LAN: Coach Lu­ciano Spal­letti blasted In­ter Mi­lan’s “sloppy and care­less” per­for­mance as the fallen Serie A giants’ hopes of cap­tur­ing this year’s ti­tle faded with a 1-0 loss to Ju­ven­tus.

Chi­nese-owned In­ter, who fin­ished fourth last sea­son, had looked a se­ri­ous ri­val to reign­ing seven-time cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus on Fri­day with sum­mer sign­ings such as Radja Naing­golan, Mat­teo Poli­tano, Sime Vrs­jalko and Keita Balde.

But de­spite their spend­ing spree Spal­letti’s side proved to be no match for Ju­ven­tus, even with Por­tuguese star Cris­tiano Ron­aldo not as om­nipresent as usual on the night for the Turin giants.

In­ter sit third, but are now 14 points be­hind Ju­ven­tus, and risk los­ing ground on se­cond-placed Napoli, who are three points ahead of Spal­letti’s side.

City ri­vals AC Mi­lan, just be­hind in fourth, could also close the gap when they host Torino.

Mario Mandzu­kic’s div­ing header af­ter 66 min­utes was enough to set­tle the Derby d’Italia with In­ter’s Roberto Gagliar­dini miss­ing a golden chance af­ter 30 min­utes to help In­ter to their first win in Turin since Novem­ber 2012.

“We man­aged the game in the right way for long spells, but we’re still too care­less at times and sloppy,” said Spal­letti.

“It would have made a world of dif­fer­ence had we taken the lead, but we mis­placed too many passes, we made too many ba­nal and cheap er­rors.

“There were sit­u­a­tions where we didn’t in­ter­pret or read them prop­erty while Ju­ven­tus didn’t do any­thing wrong,” said Spal­letti.

“Un­for­tu­nately, Juve are smart and we are naive. They have a way of wast­ing five min­utes af­ter a foul.”

Ju­ven­tus cap­tain Gior­gio Chiellini was im­pe­ri­ous in de­fence deny­ing In­ter striker Mauro Icardi a sin­gle shot on goal as the Ar­gen­tine hit­man tried to add to his eight-goal tally in Serie A. But Spal­letti de­fended the In­ter cap­tain. “Icardi had the game that he needed to have, he did some great work in drop­ping to help the team,” said the for­mer Roma and Zenit St Peters­burg boss.

“We were only on the back foot at the end of the first half and missed two big chances – you can’t miss chances like this against Ju­ven­tus.”

Af­ter a stut­ter­ing start to the sea­son Spal­letti’s side won seven con­sec­u­tive games but have now taken just four points from their last four matches, and will host Napoli on Dec 26. “We go home hav­ing not got any points, but we know that we’re ca­pa­ble of get­ting a lot of points. We’ll see where we are in March or April,” said Spal­letti.

Next up is Tues­day’s cru­cial Cham­pi­ons League game against PSV Eind­hoven at the San Siro as they look to seal their place in the knock­out rounds.

In­ter re­turned to the elite Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son af­ter an eight-year ab­sence since Jose Mour­inho’s reign when they com­pleted the first tre­ble of Serie A, do­mes­tic Cup and Cham­pi­ons League in Ital­ian his­tory in 2010.

Since those days it has been lean times for the 18-time Ital­ian and three-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, with the only ti­tle of any sort a 2011 Ital­ian Cup crown.

Ju­ven­tus coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri praised his team for be­ing “ef­fec­tive and clin­i­cal” as they re­main un­beaten this sea­son.

Ju­ven­tus also equalled the best ever start to a cam­paign in the top five Euro­pean leagues set by Paris St Ger­main this sea­son with 43 points from 15 rounds.

“It’s an im­por­tant three points to­day be­cause it means we’re one win closer to achiev­ing our goal in the league,” said Al­le­gri.

Can’t touch this: In­ter Mi­lan’s Mauro Icardi (left) jump­ing over Ju­ven­tus’ Mario Mandzu­kic dur­ing the Serie A match at the Al­lianz Sta­dium in Turin on Fri­day. — AFP

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