Cuadrado gifts Juventus spectacular Derby d'Italia winner from distance
It took a sensational Juan Cuadrado goal to decide an open Derby d'Italia between two talented teams, as Juventus defeated Inter 1-0 to secure their 28th consecutive home win.
Boasting two of the finest squads in Serie A, the game started in an electrifying manner, with both sides creating opportunities. Inter opted to change their formation, flooding the penalty area to leave Juve's fortified attack with no space to exploit. However, Paulo Dybala still found a way to penetrate and came close to opening the scoring with a sensational bicycle kick, but it was Juan Cuadrado's missile from distance that put Juve ahead.
Inter saw the referee turn down two penalty appeals, but they never stopped believing in the win, applying more and more pressure on the home side, who switched to a 4-4-2 formation to ensure greater balance.
Working as a unit and determined to ensure a clean sheet, Juventus sealed the win to push them one step closer to their sixth consecutive league title.
For some time, Juventus seemed to have lost their ability to close matches with authority, but despite Inter's relentless pushing toward the end of the game, the home team played with intelligence and confidence to seal the result. Accurate, determined and united, their attack might have put them ahead, but their defending secured the win.
At times, Juventus still take too many risks, leaving ample space at the back for Inter to exploit and counter-attack. They must always remain organised and alert to potential danger, ready to halt the opponents, should they lose possession.
7 (out of 10)-- Massimiliano Allegri started the match with a set idea but was happy to adjust and switch to a 4-4-2 when he recognised Juve's need for greater balance. The team's authoritative play in the second half and united defending sealed the win.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- He read every situation perfectly and remained alert and concentrated, anticipating the shots to ensure a clean sheet. He had little to do in the second half.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 -- He had some good moves, but this was not his best performance, as he suffered against Ivan Perisic. He still caused the opponents concern with his runs.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 6 -- He delivered some delectable balls forward, read the game well at the back and successfully managed to keep Mauro Icardi at bay.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 7 -- This was a spectacular performance from the warrior. He irritated the opponents to disrupt their game, made excellent last-ditch tackles, pushed forward effectively and utilised his physicality to thwart Icardi & Co. He was the best at the back.
DF Alex Sandro, 6 -- He put in a mature performance. He has created an excellent partnership with Mario Mandzukic on the left. He was cautious defensively and good at reducing Antonio Candreva's impact.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- He performed well. He delivered perfect crosses, made timely runs, intercepted the ball and produced a well-rounded performance.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 -- He was twice denied a chance for a goal by Samir Handanovic. Pjanic always kept the ball moving and distributed play well, but he is not as precise as needed to make a big impact. He is capable of more.
MF Juan Cuadrado, 7 -- He started the game with a few poor decisions but redeemed himself with a spectacular goal from distance. His technique made the difference in a big match once again.
MF Paulo Dybala, 6 -- Dybala started the match in sensational fashion, nearly scoring two goals almost instantly. His movement created problems going forward, but he disappeared toward the end as his presence was barely visible.
MF Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- There's nothing quite like his determination on the pitch. He defends and attacks with confidence and aggression, creating chances and blocking opponents. His energy ensures he's anywhere and everyone, contributing all over the pitch, but he did nearly give a penalty away with his tackle on Icardi.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 -- He was stifled by Gary Medel and Miranda but worked relentlessly to aid and create for his teammates.
MF Claudio Marchisio, N/A -- He was the perfect player to introduce to keep possession and ensure fluency. He helped secure the result.
DF Dani Alves, N/A -- He had too little time to impact the game.
DF Daniele Rugani, N/A -- He came on to secure the defence and was offered only a few minutes.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.