We are better than Juventus, says Gattuso

Juventus 0 - Milan 0
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The Independent Football

Juventus may have maintained their Serie A lead over second-placed Milan with this goalless draw, but a one-sided game confirmed that the reigning champions are Italy's form team as the year ends.

The Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was "more than satisfied" with Saturday's outcome, despite his team failing to turn their dominance into three points. "We controlled the game from the first minute to the last," he said. "We didn't enjoy much luck with our finishing but I can't criticise any of my players."

The tough-tackling midfielder Gennaro Gattuso was more succinct: "We are clearly a better team than Juventus."

On a night of few real goal-scoring opportunities, Milan's Andriy Shevchenko hit the post with a low drive from 22 yards in the first half. In the final minute, the Ukrainian set up Andrea Pirlo with the best chance of the game, only for the unmarked Pirlo to side-foot wide from the edge of the penalty area. A below-par Juventus rarely threatened Dida's goal.

The Juve coach, Fabio Capello, will not be unduly worried. His team enjoys a four-point lead over Milan and the Christmas break - Serie A teams do not play again until 6 January - will give his tiring players time to recuperate. He was characteristically frank about his side's performance: "Juventus gave the ball away far too often. And I mean Juventus, not just one or two players. In the end it was happening so often that I stopped getting angry about it. Maybe there was too much tension before the game. Thank goodness for the holidays, we need to recharge our batteries."

Billed as the match of the season, the game was a big disappointment. With both teams closing down their opponents quickly, space was limited. Juventus took route one, pumping balls down the middle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the Swedish striker received little support from Alessandro Del Piero, who was again disappointing and replaced at half-time by the Uruguayan Marcelo Zalayeta.

The Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, may take some comfort from the way Juventus kept the two Milan forwards, Shevchenko and Hernan Crespo, as well as the in-form Brazilian Kaka, away from the danger area. However, United will need to match the speed of Juve's central defenders Lilian Thuram and Fabio Cannavaro and the aggression of their defensive midfield shield Emerson, if they are to have any joy when they welcome Milan to Old Trafford in February's Champions' League encounter.

The draw allowed third-placed Udinese to close the gap on Milan to four points by beating Lazio 3-0 yesterday. However, the humble northern club's hopes of winning the scudetto are being taken about as seriously as Everton's chances of winning the Premiership. Serie A will remain a two-horse race until the end of the season.

Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon; Zebina, Thuram, Cannavaro, Zambrotta; Emerson, Camoranesi, Nedved, Blasi (Tacchinardi, 80); Del Piero (Zalayeta, h-t), Ibrahimovic. Substitutes not used: Chimenti (gk), Montero, Pessotto, Appiah, Kapo.

Milan (4-3-1-2): Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Costacurta, Kaladze (Pancaro, 62); Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka; Crespo, Shevchenko. Substitutes not used: Abbiati (gk), Coloccini, Ambrosini, Dhorasoo, Rui Costa, Serginho.

Referee: P Bertini.

Man of the match: Cannavaro.

Attendance: 70,000.