A ten-minute fireworks display illuminated the sky above the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza at kick off in Sunday evening’s Derby d’Italia, and Nicolo Barella’s explosive performance lit up the pitch as he drove Inter to an impressive 2-0 win over Juventus.
The 23-year-old Italian was essential for Antonio Conte’s side, assisting the first and scoring the second in what was as close to a perfect performance as Serie A is likely to see this season.
Other than a brief moment early on, when Cristiano Ronaldo thought he had put Juventus ahead early on only to be thwarted by the offside flag, the result was never really in doubt and the Nerazzurri were comfortably in charge.
And not long after, Arturo Vidal nodded Inter ahead. Barella did well on the right and delivered a perfect cross, allowing Vidal to climb highest and head past Wojciech Szczesny.
Alessandro Bastoni was the standout at the back as he continued to keep Juventus at bay himself, limiting the Bianconeri to long-range efforts from Cristiano Ronaldo, while Lautaro Martinez passed up a couple of good chances that should have seen Inter extend their lead before the break and Szczesny was called upon as well.
Just over five minutes after the restart, Barella doubled Inter’s advantage. Whether Barella was the intended target or not, a sweeping ball forward from Bastoni set him through on Juventus’ goal and, just as he approached Szczesny, he waited for the Pole to move first before rifling a shot into the top corner.
Andrea Pirlo turned to Weston McKennie and Dejan Kulusevski immediately, introducing the pair in an attempt to gain some control in midfield. Despite his best efforts, though, the Nerazzurri remained on top.
He mightn’t have had many chances himself, but Romelu Lukaku was excellent in buying space for Inter and bringing his teammates into the game, and exactly that saw Lautaro have another chance. The Belgian came deep and set the Argentine down the left, from where he cut in and dragged his effort disappointingly wide.
Frustrated, Cristiano Ronaldo dropped deep and wide in search of possession, but even his attempted crosses too often went astray.
Kulusevski’s determination and fight aside, La Vecchia Signora looked pedestrian and Inter were easily in the ascendancy.