Defeat doesn't hurt title chances, says Leonardo

ROME, Feb 13, 2011 (AFP) - Inter Milan coach Leonardo claimed his team's title hopes hadn't been affected despite their 1-0 defeat at Juventus leaving them eight points off top.

Juventus' goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (C) and team mates celebrats at the end of their Italian Serie A football match against Inter Milan at Olympic stadium in Turin on February 13, 2011. AFP

Inter do have a game in hand on bitter city rivals and Serie A leaders AC Milan, against Fiorentina on Wednesday.

But having won nine out of his 11 games in charge of Inter, Leonardo is still feeling confident.

January transfer window signing Alessandro Matri scored the only goal of the game on the half hour, heading home unmarked from seven yards after Ivan Cordoba misjudged his jump.

Inter created several chances late on to equalise and Samuel Eto'o wasted the best, hitting the bar from five yards with an empty net to aim at.

"We struggled to create chances in the first half, Juve played a great game, they were compact and difficult to break down," said Leonardo.

"But we had a lot of the ball, we could have constructed more in the first half while the chances we conceded were when we gave away the ball rather than them creating something.

"In the second half we did very well, after 15 minutes we made a change to put more players up front, we conceded two or three counters, Matri had clear chances but we created clear chances in the final third.

"We played the whole of the second half in attack, in their half.

"In the first half we weren't lacking in attack, we had good possession, we were a bit slow and we didn't find the solutions up front.

"Juve played with two tight banks of four, they closed us down and they countered.

"That's the way we expected them to play, it's what they did against Cagliari, they have a clear 4-4-2 system that they understand it and play it well.

"But looking at the results of the last few weeks the table changes a lot, we've had a good run to get into the fight.

"On Wednesday we have another good opportunity. Everything is like it was before, there are still many games to go, 14 for us and 13 for the others.

"There are positives, I'm satisfied with the second half.

"We lacked general brilliance in the fist half but in the second we had the chance to come back.

"We didn't start as we are used to, we're used to good starts, today was different.

"We started slowly in the first but in the second we fought to the end, we tried every way to score.

"It's not a decisive defeat otherwise all our other wins would have also been decisive."

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini admitted that Juve had ridden their luck at times.

"We played a great game, we could have created better chances and we lacked a bit of sparkle in the first half," he said.

"We did well in the second half, we defended well but honestly we could have drawn, although we created a lot of good chances."

Juve coach Luigi Delneri pointed to the positive impact his January signings Matri, Luca Toni and Andrea Barzagli have had.

"It was an important game against an Inter team who were in good form and have great quality but we had good chances to finish the game," he said.

"Barzagli, Toni and Matri are important acquisitions for the balance of the team.

"We've come through a difficult period pyschologically and this win gives us security in what we're doing."

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