Inter Milan stretch lead on Juventus through narrow win

Other News Materials 23 November 2008 02:12 (UTC +04:00)

A goal by Ghana's Sulley Muntari allowed champions Inter Milan to edge visiting Juventus 1-0 Saturday and move six points clear of their opponents atop of the Serie A, dpa reported.

Juve lost their midfield setup after two minutes when Portuguese Tiago Cardoso Mendes hurt himself and had to be replaced by the young Claudio Marchisio, as Inter produced massive attacks throughout the first half.

Dejan Stankovic tried to finish off a counterattack on 12 minutes but met the rough tackle of two Juve defenders and saw Alex Manninger save his header shortly afterward.

Swede star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic on 25 minutes fired a first shot that caused no problems to Manninger before Sulley Muntari nodded wide off a free kick.

Juve suffered in their midfield but ran a first real risk on 33 minutes, when a blunder from Nicola Legrottaglie set Ibra free to storm toward the area, only to fire wide past the diving Manninger.

Inter second striker Adriano saw his first attempt deflected on 35 minutes, and home goalkeeper Julio Cesar made a first save on 43 minutes, slapping away a long-range lob from Marchisio.

A much harder deflection from Manninger on a smashing Muntari drive closed a first half that ended without goals despite Intre's relentless pressure.

The champions' pace slowed after the break, and Ibra missed his second chance on 65 minutes, again firing wide, but the Swede favoured Muntari's goal on 72 minutes, when another squandered shot allowed the Ghanaian midfielder to beat Manninger from close range.

There were virtually no chances for Juve's reaction despite the fielding of Mauro Camoranesi and Vicenzo Iaquinta as Inter maintained a good control in midfield.

Julio Cesar, however, had to make a prodigious save on 83 minutes to stop a nasty header by Alessandro Del Piero.

Inter have 30 points from 13 games, but AC Milan can hope to remain a single point behind when they play late Sunday at lowly Torino.

Earlier Saturday, Fiorentina came from behind to beat visiting Udinese 4-2 and remain seven points from Inter, thanks to a brace from Riccardo Montolivo.