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Late Matri goal earns Juventus draw at Milan

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Associated Press

Last Updated: February 26, 2012, 08:44 IST

Late Matri goal earns Juventus draw at Milan

Juventus remain one point behind leaders and defending champions Milan, with a game in hand.

Milan: Alessandro Matri's late goal prevented Juventus from slipping to their first defeat of the season as they snatched a 1-1 draw at Serie A leaders AC Milan in a thrilling top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

Leonardo Bonucci's error, which led to Antonio Nocerino's goal, looked to have gifted Milan a 1-0 win but Matri pounced seven minutes from time to steal a share of the points.

Both teams had goals ruled out, although Milan's was certainly the most unjust as Sulley Muntari's header was several yards over the line but the referee waved play on.

Arturo Vidal was sent off shortly before the end after tackling Philippe Mexes from behind.

The voided goals will be hotly debated over the next few days, just as referees' decisions were in the build-up.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte recently hinted at a conspiracy against his team after they were denied two penalties against Parma, sparking a fierce outcry.

AC Milan counterpart Massimiliano Allegri preferred to try and draw a veil over the situation.

"It was a great game, I'm happy for what the lads did," Allegri said. "I'm disappointed as we could have gone 2-0 up, we might still have drawn or lost 3-2 ... but it would have been a different game. The goal would have been important but I don't have anything to say against the referee. It doesn't change anything to talk about it now. Although it shows it's better to be quiet."

Conte acknowledged he was wrong to create so much discord leading up to the game.

"There were two huge errors, there wasn't one," he said. "There was one in our favor and one against. But I think the best thing today was the game, what we saw on the pitch, and I didn't like everything that went on around it. The match was excessively charged and I'm first at fault for that ... maybe even second, third, fourth ..."

"Fortunately there were two mistakes, because if there had only been one, it would have been a disaster."

Juventus, who have not lost since the penultimate game of last season, remain one point behind leaders and defending champions Milan, with a game in hand.

Milan had scored seven goals in their past two games but it was a sterling defensive performance which almost secured them victory as Juventus barely had a sight on goal.

Milan were missing star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was serving the last of a three-match suspension, as well as other key players Kevin-Prince Boateng, Clarence Seedorf and Maxi Lopez through injury, but it barely told.

Juventus were unbeaten going into the game but Milan were full of confidence after three successive wins following their Coppa Italia home leg defeat to the Bianconeri. That run included a comprehensive 4-0 rout of Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match-up.

"We have a long road to go and that's what you saw tonight, but we've come a long way in just six and a half months," Conte said. "Tonight I saw an extraordinary Milan and they put us into a lot of difficulty."

"Milan already are a great squad, they've already won, they're doing great things in the Champions League and great things in the league. But we didn't give up and we got the draw. This team has in its DNA the desire not to lose a game."

Milan took the lead when Bonucci's clearance fell straight to the opposing team and Nocerino lashed a stunning shot home from 30 yards.

The home side had a second goal clamorously disallowed 12 minutes later. Gianluigi Buffon did well to save from Philippe Mexes, and then parried again to deny Muntari but the Milan striker's header had already crossed the line.

Much to the crowd's disapproval, the referee continued play. With the Milan players still protesting, Juve raced downfield and would have scored had Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati not pulled off a brilliant save to deny Marcelo Estigarribia.

Matri, who came off the bench in the 70th, leveled soon after, volleying home Simone Pepe's cross for a goal which could well prove decisive in the title race.

Earlier, Rodrigo Palacio leveled deep into stoppage time to snatch Genoa a 2-2 draw against Parma, and snap their three-game losing streak.

Massimo Gobbi put Parma in the lead in the sixth minute and the visitors seemed certain of victory when Sergio Floccari rifled home against his old team after the interval. However, Palacio pulled one back for Genoa in the 78th after his initial attempt from the penalty spot was saved. Six minutes into added time, Palacio caught the defence napping. Parma defender Alessandro Lucarelli was dismissed moments later for — wrongly — arguing that the goal should have been ruled out for offside.