‘Caged lion’ Sanchez wins Inter Italian Super Cup

Alexis Sanchez scored with practically the last kick of the match to help Inter Milan win the Italian Super Cup with a 2-1 victory over bitter rival Juventus after extra-time on Wednesday.

Sanchez’s goal, helped by an error from the Juventus defence, sparked scenes of wild celebration at the San Siro as almost every member of the Inter bench ran onto the field to embrace Sanchez in the far corner.

Lautaro Martinez had converted a penalty in the first half to cancel out American midfielder Weston McKennie’s opener for Juventus in an entertaining game for the first piece of silverware of the season.

Defending champions Juventus have a record nine victories in the Italian Super Cup. But this was the first time since 2012 they qualified for the game as Italian Cup winners rather than league champions after their run of nine successive Serie A titles was ended by Inter and former coach Antonio Conte last season.

Sanchez told Mediaset after starting the game on the bench: “The more a champion plays, the better he is, and he does things nobody else can do.

“Today it was like that. I thought I would start because I was in form, I respect the coach but I was hungry to win… I felt like a caged lion.”

Inter Milan's players celebrate with the Italian Super Cup
Inter Milan’s players celebrate with the Italian Super Cup

Inter lead Serie A again, 11 points ahead of Juventus, who have had a difficult start to the season.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi extended his impressive record against Juventus in the Italian Super Cup, having won both of his previous matches in the competition against the Bianconeri when he was in charge of Lazio in 2017 and 2019.

Juventus were without a number of players through injury and suspension, while goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was on the bench as he has only recently had his second dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus and so was not be able to come into contact with his team-mates until shortly before kick-off because of new rules that took effect in Italy on Monday.

Inter wasted several chances to take the lead in the opening 10 minutes. The Nerazzurri also thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Nicolo Barella was shoulder barged by Giorgio Chiellini but, after a swift check with the video assistant referee, play continued.

Inter Milan celebrate after their Italian Super Cup victory
Inter Milan celebrate after their Italian Super Cup victory

Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was so much of a spectator in the opening quarter of an hour that he resorted to doing some jumping jacks in the middle of his own half to try and keep warm on a chilly night at San Siro.

But Inter were made to pay for their profligacy when, following a series of crosses, Alvaro Morata floated the ball back in for McKennie to head into the far side of the net. However, Inter did get a penalty shortly after.

Juventus defender Mattia De Sciglio tried to clear the ball but didn’t realise Edin Dzeko was running up behind him and brought down the Inter forward. Martinez blasted the penalty into the top right corner.

Juventus almost restored their lead right at the start of the second half but Federico Bernardeschi fired just wide of the right post.

Inter went even closer on the hour mark as Denzel Dumfries header from Hakan Calhanoglu cross appeared to be going in but Mattia Perin managed to palm it onto the frame of the goal. Perin also made a good save to keep out Martnez’s header from close range.

Inter almost immediately took the lead in extra time but Sanchez headed a corner narrowly wide.

Just as the match was heading for penalties, Juventus gifted Inter the winner. Bianconeri defender Alex Sandro tried to chest the ball to Chiellini but gave Matteo Darmian a chance to flick it on for Sanchez to fire home.

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