Inter proved they have what it takes to maintain a serious title challenge this season by defeating reigning champions Juventus 2-0, according to Arturo Vidal.
Vidal opened the scoring against his former club at San Siro on Sunday, heading home a cross from Nicolo Barella to find the net in Serie A for the first time since his goal clinched the Scudetto for Juve in May 2015.
He became the first ex-Juve player to score for Inter in the Derby d’Italia since Christian Vieri in 2004 and the eighth player to score for both sides in the fixture.
Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku missed opportunities to add to Inter’s tally but Barella made no mistake with an emphatic finish in the 52nd minute.
The Nerazzurri consequently claimed their first league win against Juve since September 2016 and their first with a clean sheet since April 2010.
Antonio Conte’s side moved level with Serie A leaders Milan on 40 points and opened up a seven-point advantage over the reigning champions.
Milan can restore their three-point cushion by beating Cagliari in their game in hand on Inter on Monday, but Vidal does not think Conte’s men are going to fall away.
“It’s important for me and for the team. It was a very difficult game against the best team in Italy,” Vidal told Sky Sport Italia.
“I am glad to have scored my first goal for Inter, very happy. I think we proved that we are up to the task of fighting for the Scudetto.
“This gives us the confidence to keep pushing, to believe we can win the Scudetto, as we beat the strongest team over the past nine years. We believe that we can go all the way.”
Ahead of kick-off, Vidal was seen kissing the Juve badge on Giorgio Chiellini’s training top while the pair shared a hug. He then celebrated his goal in a muted fashion.
This team. https://t.co/zGVozcApl2
— Inter (@Inter_en) January 17, 2021
Conte led Juve to three straight Serie A titles to start their ongoing period of dominance and finally got his first league victory over them at the fourth attempt.
Despite Inter coming out on top and Juve being seven points adrift, Conte still believes the Bianconeri are the team to beat in the race for the title.
“In order to beat a team like Juventus, which for all the Italian clubs are the reference point, we have to put in a great performance. We did that,” said Conte.
“We prepared well and it’s satisfying to see that we were right about the things we thought could hurt Juventus. The lads followed the plan perfectly and I am very happy for them because these are games that must give you self-belief, let you understand you are on the right path.
“We already saw the fruits of this process last season and we are continuing to see them this term. Juventus were an important reference point, a side that dominated Serie A for nine years, having done exceptional work both on the field and as a club.
“I still maintain Juve have a gap not just from Inter, but all the other clubs, but we are working to close the gap.”
In what appeared to be a dig at his club, Conte added: “If people think we are the favourites now, imagine if we’d been able to work in the transfer market in August. We’d be massive favourites!”