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Ten-man Juventus draws 1-1 with Inter

DEFENDER Zdenek Grygera scored on a header in added time to earn 10-man Juventus a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan yesterday, although it may have not been enough to prevent Inter from clinching its fourth successive Serie A title.

Teenager Mario Balotelli scored in the 64th minute for Inter and Juventus midfielder Tiago Mendes was shown a red card in the 76th.

"To go down a goal, lose a man, and then be able to draw, satisfies me," Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri said.

Inter remained 10 points ahead of Juventus with six rounds remaining in the Italian league.

"Even without a victory tonight, Inter is the best team in the league and we'll be champions in a few weeks," Inter coach Jose Mourinho said.

With both teams matching one another and few scoring chances being created, the 18-year-old Balotelli redirected in a perfect cross from Sulley Muntari, who was in turn set up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic down the left flank.

Balotelli concluded the action by beating Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon with an angled shot for his sixth score of the season.

Despite losing a man, Juventus did not give up and Czech Republic right back Grygera headed in a corner from a Sebastian Giovinco corner kick.

Earlier, Genoa's chances of qualifying for the Champions League took a hit with a 1-0 loss to Lazio.

Lazio forward Mauro Zarate showed off his speed by sprinting past the defense in the 65th, beating Brazilian goalkeeper Rubinho with an angled shot for his 12th score of the season to snap Genoa's four-game winning streak.

Genoa is still fourth with 57 points, two ahead of fifth-place Fiorentina, but it risks being overtaken when Fiorentina visits Udinese today.

The top four finishers in Serie A qualify for the Champions League.

Lazio has won two straight after beating AS Roma 4-2 in a derby last weekend and is now seventh with 47 points.

At Turin's Olympic stadium, coach Jose Mourinho lined up Ibrahimovic as his lone striker in Inter's 4-1-4-1 formation, while Claudio Ranieri countered with Alessandro Del Piero and Vincenzo Iaquinta at the front of Juventus' traditional 4-4-2.

Balotelli, who usually plays forward, lined up on the left wing of Inter's midfield and had the first chance with a shot that Buffon could only slow in the 10th. The ball trickled toward the goal until Tiago cleared it off the line.

Iaquinta had a shot deflected wide by Inter defender Walter Samuel in the 28th and Marco Marchionni wasted Juve's best chance of the half in the 31st, waiting too long to shoot and letting charging goalkeeper Julio Cesar block his shot on a counterattack.

Ibrahimovic slipped as he connected with the ball on a dangerous free kick in the 53rd and Del Piero had an even closer free kick in the 58th but his weak shot was stopped easily by Julio Cesar.

A few minutes after Balotelli scored, he risked a red card for protests, but was handed a yellow.

"I don't like it when he talks with the referee," Mourinho said. "I understand he's just an 18-year-old kid with particularly high pressure on him, but he's got to stay focused."

Ranieri sent on David Trezeguet for Marchionni in the 74th but ideas of an equalizer took a hard hit two minutes later when Tiago fouled Muntari and Balotelli in succession, earning a red card.

Still, Buffon kept Juve's chances alive with a tough save on a shot from Dejan Stankovic in the 79th and Giovinco replaced Del Piero for the final 10 minutes and set up Grygera's equalizer.

Genoa had a series of chances early in the first half negated by Lazio goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

In the 28th, Goran Pandev's shot was blocked by Rubinho and Zarate missed the rebound.

Pandev limped off with an apparent thigh problem in the 40th and was replaced by Tommaso Rocchi.

Genoa defender Matteo Ferrari nearly scored an own-goal in second-half added time, hitting the post.


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