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Primavera: Juve fall at final hurdle

Thursday April 14 2016

Grigoris Kastanos’ fine finish is not enough to overturn the first-leg deficit as the Bianconeri slip to a 3-1 aggregate Coppa Italia final defeat at the hands of Inter at the San Siro.


Competitive, lively and arguably the better team throughout, Juventus’ Primavera will have good reason to feel hard done by as they look back on this evening’s Coppa Italia 2-1 second-leg defeat at the San Siro, a result that saw hosts Inter prevail by three goals to one on aggregate.


Taking the lead on the night through Grigoris Kastanos’ excellent first-half finish from Roman Macek’s through pass, a second domestic trophy of the season looked on the cards for Fabio Grosso’s boys whose hard pressing and direct running had put them in firm control of the tie at the break.


The visitors however would noticeably fade after the hour-mark, a drop in tempo that ceded the upper hand to the Nerazzurri who eventually found an equaliser through Rey Manaj’s fine individual strike and eventually a late winner on the night as Loris Zanto poked into an empty net in stoppage time.


Chasing down a one-goal advantage from the first leg it was the visitors that made the brighter start and it was clear right from the off that Fabio Grosso’s side were a team on a mission.


Lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, it was the visitors that posed the game’s greater attacking threat in the opening stages with the wide pairing of Francesco Cassata and Roman Macek and strikers Guido Vadala and Andrea Favilli causing problems from the word go with their flexible and dangerous movement off the ball.


And it would be up to the former to create the Bianconeri’s first clear sighting of goal, evading a handful of Inter challenges on the edge of the box and teeing up Grigoris Kastanos whose low shot was well blocked by goalkeeper Ionut Radu.


Radu had to be on his toes again moments later as Juve began to put the squeeze on their hosts, the Romanian diving at the feet of Andrea Favilli to palm the 19-year old’s point-blank strike behind for a corner.


In between half-chances for Inter’s Manaj and Enrico Baldini at the other end, the Bianconeri continued to press and were unlucky to see Roman Macek’s jinking run and searching low cross from the right go unrewarded.


Luck, or lack of it, would play no part in the game’s opening goal on 33 minutes however. Darting in from the right once more, Macek’s precise through-ball found its intended target this time, picking out Kastanos in a central position who took a touch before curling past the diving Radu to deservedly hand his side the lead.


That said, the two teams would have gone in at the interval level were it not for Emil Audero’s brilliant instinctive block from Manaj an instant after kick-off.


Things would briefly follow suit after the restart, Vadala seeing a close-range shot blocked before Macek’s delicate side-footed effort spun inches wide of the post within the opening two minutes of the half.


As the hungry away side pushed for a decisive winner though, Inter began to pose a greater threat on the break and with the play becoming more disjointed, the Bianconeri found themselves withdrawing increasingly into their own territory.


Two golden opportunities in quick succession indicated the growing confidence of the home side, with Loris Zanto first drawing a magnificent save from Audero on the hour and then Manaj firing over the top with the goal at his mercy.


Unfortunately, the Albanian instantly made amends by dispatching an altogether harder chance after rounding Audero twice with a fine piece of individual skill and slotting home to empty the Inter bench onto the field in celebration.


With Juve pushing hard for a winner it was in fact Inter who had the better of a frantic final 15 minutes, Audero called into action to deny Manaj once more as the away side tired.


The subsequent dismissal of the 19-year old for simulation on 87 minutes would do little to change the direction of the trophy as Zonta rolled a late second into an unguarded net in the fourth minute of stoppage time to send the Bianconeri home empty-handed.


All eyes on the league now for Grosso’s committed, tidy and ultimately unlucky side. The domestic double will have to wait.


Inter 2-1 Juventus (3-1 agg)


Scorers: Kastanos 34 (J), Manaj 77 (I), Zonta 93 (I)


Inter: Radu; Gyamfi, Gravillon, Della Giovanna, Miangue; Zonta, Gnokouri, Bonetto (Bagayoko 70); Kouame (Pinamonti 74), Manaj, Baldini (Popa 89)


Juventus: Audero; Lirola, Romagna (Severin 64), Blanco, Zappa (Di Massimo 81); Macek, Bove (Toure' 80), Kastanos; Cassata, Favilli, Vadalà


Ref: Di Martino


Sent off: Manaj 88 (I)



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