Inter survive Juve test to remain top of Serie A

Inter survive Juve test to remain top of Serie A
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MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan stayed top of Serie A and unbeaten after 16 games after surviving their toughest test of the season by holding champions Juventus to a 0-0 draw in Turin on Saturday.

Juve created more chances, but were foiled by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic or their own poor finishing in a Derby d'Italia that was always intriguing but never quite caught fire.

Cagliari survived a freak sequence of first-half injuries to draw 2-2 at home to Sampdoria, helped by an extraordinary goal where Samp goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano's clearance hit Diego Farias and flew into the net.

Inter lead the standings with 40 points from 16 games, two ahead of Napoli, who host Fiorentina on Sunday, and Juventus.

Juve, who ended Napoli's unbeaten start with a 1-0 away win one week ago, completed their fifth game without conceding a goal in all competitions and failed to score for the first time in 45 Serie A matches - a run stretching back to October last year.

"There were moments in the second half when we lost the ball too often for a team of our quality," said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti. "We have the potential to do more, but sometimes tonight it seemed we were not angry enough and we got complacent."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri dropped off-form playmaker Paulo Dybala and was without injured goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon whose place was taken by Wojciech Szczesny.

Handanovic rescued Inter after seven minutes with a superb save to push away a Mario Mandzukic volley before Miranda cleared the rebound off the line.

Mandzukic was close again just before halftime when he headed against the crossbar from Juan Cuadrado's cross but Inter enjoyed long spells of possession in between.

Juve had more of a grip in the second half with Cuadrado causing all sorts of trouble on the wing.

Handanovic tipped a Cuadrado header over the bar and had to make a difficult save from Kwadwo Asamoah's swerving drive, while in another attack Sami Khedira drove the ball wide with Handanovic out of his ground.

Gonzalo Higuain also had a chance for Juve but sent his shot wildly over the bar from the edge of the area.

Cagliari hit back from 2-0 down to hold Sampdoria 2-2 despite suffering extraordinary bad luck.

Goalkeeper Rafael was injured in the warm-up and replaced by Alessio Cragno, then Luca Ceppitelli went off in the fourth minute, Paolo Farago in the 33rd and Daniele Dessena in the 40th, all with injuries.

In between, Fabio Quagliarella scored twice in eight minutes to put Sampdoria in charge.

However, fortune smiled on the Sardinians early in the second half when Viviano hit a clearance straight at Diego Farias and the ball flew into net from 20 metres with the Cagliari player seemingly knowing nothing about it.

Leonardo Pavoletti headed the equaliser and Samp were grateful to come away with a point after a late flurry from the hosts.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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