TURIN - Zdenek Grygera headed home an injury time equaliser to give 10-man Juventus a 1-1 draw with leaders Inter Milan on Saturday and keep the Serie A title race just about alive. Jose Mourinho's Inter, who remain 10 points ahead of second-placed Juve with six games left, had been on the verge of victory following Mario Balotelli's 64th minute strike. If Inter had held on they could have clinched the title next weekend should results have gone their way but they will have to wait a little longer for a fourth straight scudetto. Juve enjoyed the majority of the play in a scrappy first half but Inter had the clearest chance when the home side's defence, which had conceded three goals in each of their previous two matches, was found wanting again. Balotelli easily wriggled through the Juve backline and his shot was only half saved by Gianluigi Buffon, leaving Tiago to race back and clear the slow-moving ball off the line. The teenage striker did find the net midway through the second period when he slotted home Sulley Muntari's ball across the box following a superb Inter breakaway. Tiago was then sent off after 75 minutes for clattering into Balotelli having only just fouled Muntari. An equaliser did not look like coming until Czech defender Grygera headed in a corner virtually unmarked from close range. ELECTRIC ATMOSPHERE Juve coach Claudio Ranieri and players such as Alessandro Del Piero and Buffon said before the game that their title hopes were all but over whatever the result. They were also without injured striker Amauri and suspended midfielders Mauro Camoranesi and Claudio Marchisio but a capacity crowd at Turin's Stadio Olimpico still made sure the clash between the rivals was played in an electric atmosphere. Genoa suffered a knock to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League when they lost 1-0 at home to a resurgent Lazio in Saturday's early kick-off. Argentine striker Mauro Zarate scored after a counter attack midway through the second half to further boost seventh-placed Lazio's bid for a Europa League berth following last weekend's derby win over AS Roma. Genoa, Serie A's surprise package this term who beat Juve 3-2 last Saturday, remain in the fourth Champions League qualifying spot but can be overhauled on Sunday if Fiorentina win at Udinese. Milan, three points behind Juve, host Torino in Sunday's late game.
18 April 2009
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