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Juventus 1-0 Inter: Wasteful Inter falls victim to Mandzukic

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Inter wasted a whole boatload of good chances on both ends of the halftime break, and they were made to pay as Mario Mandzukic picked out the winner in the 66th minute to give Juventus the Derby d’Italia victory.

Roberto Gagliardini was Inter’s goat of the first half, hitting the far post with a glorious chance in the 29th minute. Just ticks after the break, the visitors had a massive opportunity as Juventus muffed an attempt to build out of the back, giving the ball away right at the top of the box, but Matteo Politano saw his shot blocked.

Paulo Dybala was dangerous at times, but his finishing was less than stellar as well, with Juventus ripping off 12 shots in the first half to Inter’s five, but failed to get in front before halftime.

Yellow cards flew before the hour mark as both teams succumbed to clumsiness with Rodrigo Betancur, Ivan Perisic, and Marcelo Brozovic all finding their way into the referee’s notebook. With both teams trading long spells on the ball, Juventus found the opener as 24-year-old Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo delivered a pinpoint ball from the left baseline onto the head of Mandzukic who beat Kwadwo Asamoah in the air.

That was all she wrote, as Inter seemed defeated by the moment, without anything of significant note from that point on. Juventus moved 11 points clear at the top of the Serie A table with the win, while Inter wastes the chance to draw level with second-placed Napoli. In addition, it leaves Inter just four points above rivals AC Milan, who sit just behind them in fourth.

Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic retires from national team

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) Mario Mandzukic is retiring from international soccer after 11 years with Croatia’s national team, with his decision coming a month after he scored in the World Cup final.

[ MORE: Messi to skip upcoming Argentina friendlies in U.S. ]

The 32-year-old Mandzukic made the announcement Tuesday on Instagram.

In an emotional farewell message, Mandzukic said the decision was made easier after Croatia reached the World Cup final in Russia.

“We lived our dream, made a historic result and felt the love of our fans,” Mandzukic said.

“There’s no ideal time for departure,” Mandzuklic added. “If we could, I believe we all would play for Croatia as long as we live because there is no bigger pride than that. However, I feel that for me that moment is now. That I gave my best and that I contributed to the biggest success in Croatian football.”

Mandzukic, who plays for Italian club Juventus, has played 89 games for Croatia, scoring 33 goals – trailing only Davor Suker’s national record of 45. He played at two World Cups and three European Championships.

Croatia lost to France 4-2 in the World Cup final on July 15, with Mandzukic scoring the second goal for his country.

In that match, Mandzukic also made history by becoming the first player to score an own-goal in a World Cup final after inadvertently deflecting a free kick from Antoine Griezmann into his own net in the 18th minute to give France a 1-0 lead.

Mandzukic also scored the decisive goal against England in the semifinals, finding the net in extra time to secure Croatia’s first ever appearance in a World Cup final.

Video: Lloris blunder gives Croatia life

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Hugo Lloris has gifted Croatia their second goal of the final, and perhaps Mario Mandzukic and Co. can find their way back into the match.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

The Juventus forward pulled the scoreline to 4-2 after Lloris failed to clear his line and passed the ball off Mandzukic and into the France goal in the 69th minute.

The goal comes after Mandzukic was charged with an own goal in the first half, which had given France their initial 1-0 lead.

Video: Mandzukic own goal has France out in front

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Croatia came out flying in Sunday’s World Cup final, but it’s France that has an early lead courtesy of a generous free kick given out.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Antoine Griezmann went over easy in the 17th minute about 30 yards from goal, and the Atletico Madrid man’s brilliant free kick caused a nightmare for the Croatian defense.

The curling ball in from Griezmann was headed into the Croatia goal by Mario Mandzukic, who gave Les Bleus the 1-0 lead.

Additionally, although Paul Pogba didn’t get a touch to the final ball, the Manchester United midfielder appeared to be in an offside position at the time of the cross being played into the box.

Top three battles in 2018 World Cup Final

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The World Cup Final is Sunday, and there are three areas which could tip the scales in favor of a Croatian upset or an expected French title.

[ MORE: PST’s World Cup roundtable ]

Kante and Pogba vs. Modric, Rakitic, Brozovic

Yes, Antoine Griezmann is a midfielder, but he’s a fourth forward if N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are at their very best. Croatia’s midfield triangle has been responsible for much of its World Cup success, and will need to keep that up if it hopes to collect an upset.

Mandzukic renews acquaintances with La Liga CBs…

Two goals in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid, one the year before in the final, and an assist in that UCL run-up versus Barcelona.

So, yes, Real’s Raphael Varane and Barca’s Samuel Umtiti have tangled with him a time or two. And the big Croatian striker Mandzukic really seems to be rounding into form.

…And Giroud versus Lovren and Co.

Olivier Giroud has yet to score in the tournament, but sleeping on his industrious performance up top is a mistake. Dejan Lovren has branded himself “one of the best defenders in the world” based on this tournament and his Champions League run with Liverpool.

If France needs to whip crosses toward Giroud, we’d expect things could look a bit like the below highlight reel. Check around the 1:00 mark of this video: