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Football: Juve spurn chance to go top in draw at Inter

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Juventus spurned the chance to go top of Serie A on Saturday after missing several late chances in a 1-1 draw away to Inter Milan.

Inter, who endured a disastrous ninth place finish last season, grabbed a 73rd-minute opener through Mauro Icardi, two minutes after the Argentinian substitute entered the fray.

However, the Nerazzurri's bid to go top was halted in spectacular fashion when Arturo Vidal levelled only two minutes later and the hosts were lucky to escape with a share of the points as Juve missed three clear chances late in the match.

It left Napoli, hosting Atalanta in one of two later matches Saturday, with the chance to reinforce their lead at the top of Italy's top flight.

Inter coach Walter Mazzarri was pleased with his side's performance but admitted he lost control after Juve's quick equaliser.

"The boys didn't really get into the game in the first half but I liked the way we came out after the interval," said the former Napoli handler.

"We started to control things and took the lead, then we made a few mistakes and let Juve come back into it. That angered me a little."

While Mazzarri waved off suggestions his side could be one of several teams aiming to stop Juve winning a third successive title, a feat they last achieved in the 1930s, Conte believes otherwise.

He said the result "shows that Inter can have title-winning pretensions."

A near-capacity 79,343 fans packed the San Siro and Conte added: "My side played a great game at a difficult ground against a team that can challenge all the way this season, especially as they have no Cup or European commitments."

Inter, deploying a 3-5-1-1 formation with Rodrigo Palacio spearheading the attack just ahead of Ricardo Alvarez, welcomed Diego Milito back after a seven-month injury lay-off.

However, Mazzarri left the Argentinian on the bench for an encounter that most expected to be a bruising, tight affair.

Indeed, there were few real scoring opportunities in an opening period in which tight marking and counter-attacking seemed the order of the day.

Inter's Yuto Nagatomo spurned a chance for his third goal in as many matches when Gianluigi Buffon saved low at his right post and Paul Pogba, a constant threat for Juve, mis-hit Andrea Pirlo's long ball at Samir Handanovic's near post.

After the break, Palacio tested Buffon with a close-range header, while at the other end Vidal sent a low, angled drive wide of the post after chasing down Carlos Tevez's over-hit pass.

Minutes later Mazzarri replaced Saphir Taider with Icardi, and it proved inspirational, with the Argentinian latching on to a slide-rule Alvarez pass to beat Buffon with a well-taken right-foot shot.

Inter's joy lasted barely a minute, however.

Kwadwo Asamoah held off his marker to deliver for Vidal, who took two touches before sending his shot inside Handanovic's left-hand post.

Juve threatened to take the lead moments later when a Tevez effort from 18 yards out sailed inches past the upright.

Handanovic then did well to block Vidal's header from six yards out after Tevez's delivery deep on the left and Mauricio Isla could only skew the rebound into the side-netting.

Pogba, who scored his first goal for France in a 4-2 win over Belarusia last week, then just failed to make contact with Vidal's long floated free kick from close in.

Reflecting on his misses, Pogba said: "I wasn't as sharp as I could have been. Maybe I'm missing a little freshness after the international match last week."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130914/football-juve-spurn-chance-go-top-draw-at-inter