Juventus beats Inter in crucial match in empty stadium

Juventus’ Aaron Ramsey celebrates a goal against Inter at a nearly empty Allianz Stadium in Torino, Italy, on Sunday.

MILAN—Cristiano Ronaldo attempted to add levity to a troubling situation in virus-struck Italy before helping Juventus to a 2-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Sunday.

The Derby d’Italia, one of the season’s biggest matches, had to be played without fans and with only a limited number of people because of the virus outbreak in Italy.

When Ronaldo got off the team bus inside the stadium, he pretended to high-five imaginary mascots—something he normally does with the actual mascots—before smiling at the cameras.

Aaron Ramsey scored and set up the other goal for Paulo Dybala as the match finally went ahead, a week late due to the spread of the new coronavirus in Italy.

Juventus moved back to the top of the table, a point above Lazio. Inter is third, nine points behind the Bianconeri following a miserable return to Juventus for Coach Antonio Conte.

“An important victory, even if there are still many matches to play, in theory,” Juventus Coach Maurizio Sarri said.

Sarri’s use of the phrase “in theory” could prove significant after  calls for the Serie A season to be suspended.

“The know-it-alls scare me, I can’t say what’s right to do,” Sarri added. “But I ask myself if it’s right to take away a two-hour diversion in front of the television for those who have to stay at home.

“We don’t feel scared, but I can’t say how high the risk is.”

The match was played in an empty stadium—including no mascots—following last week’s decree from the Italian government that all sporting events in Italy must take place without spectators until April 3.

That led to Thursday’s decision that the  Italian soccer league would resume  in full this weekend, starting with the matches that were postponed last round because of the outbreak.

No fans meant there was no fiery welcome for Conte, who was returning to Juventus for the first time as opposition coach. Conte, who left in 2014, led Juventus to the first three of its eight straight league titles and also spent most of his playing career with the Bianconeri.

The voices of players and coaches could clearly be heard and, despite the lack of fans, there was plenty of intensity and passion shown on the field. AP


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