Juventus recovered some pride and kept alive hopes of Champions League qualification at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday evening, overcoming Inter 3-2 in the Derby d’Italia, just two weeks after the Nerazzurri had dethroned the Turin giants.
A Juan Cuadrado double and a Cristiano Ronaldo goal won a controversial game for the Bianconeri, moving them fourth in the Serie A table, despite Giorgio Chiellini scoring an own goal and Romelu Lukaku converting a penalty.
After Atalanta defeated Genoa earlier in the day to secure their place at the top table of European football next season, the Old Lady are left to fight with AC Milan and Napoli for the final two qualification places.
Two VAR decisions delivered an element of drama during a physical first period, disrupted by fouls and lacking in goalscoring opportunities, with both sides looking content to bide their time in Turin.
First Matteo Darmian pulled down Giorgio Chiellini as he attempted to attack a corner kick on 22 minutes and Ronaldo tapped the ball home, after Samir Handanovic had saved the Portuguese’s penalty.
VAR was then consulted again, when Lautaro Martinez was seen screaming in agony on the back of an accidental touch on the heel by Matthijs de Ligt and Lukaku made certain from the spot, for his 23rd Serie A goal of the campaign.
However, with the teams looking set to reach half time on equal terms, Cuadrado ran onto a loose ball just outside the box and hit a rasping shot past Handanovic, with the help of a deflection of Christian Eriksen.
A more determined Inter emerged from the break and soon went close with a curling Martinez shot, before more controversy, as Rodrigo Bentancur was harshly sent off when he collected a second booking for a slightly mistimed tackle on Lukaku.
With everything to lose for Juventus, given their lead, the decision allowed the hosts to retreat deeper and deeper into their own half and attempt to hit the Nerazzurri on the counter-attack when the chance presented itself.
That tactic and the decision by coach Andrea Pirlo to substitute Ronaldo with 20 minutes remaining appeared to have backfired when Chiellini turned the ball into his own goal after increasing Inter pressure, and another VAR call, but then came another twist.
Just moments after the equaliser, Ivan Perisic sent Cuadrado tumbling in the box and the Colombian stepped forward to convert with confidence past Handanovic.
Marcelo Brozovic lost his cool late on and picked up two needless yellow cards to restore numerical parity between the sides, and Inter’s hopes of an equaliser went with his dismissal.
Should Napoli and Milan both claim three points against Fiorentina and Cagliari, respectively, on Sunday, though, Juventus will still be relying on the Partenopei dropping points on the final weekend to remain fourth.
However, the Bianconeri first have the chance to ensure that their season is not a complete disaster, with the Coppa Italia final against Atalanta on Wednesday night.