Inter were held to a 1-1 draw at US Citta di Palermo in a match that saw the visitors reduced to 10 men as they failed to move provisionally two points clear at the top of Serie A on Saturday.
Ivan Perisic broke the deadlock on the hour mark, but Inter’s lead lasted just six minutes before Alberto Gilardino leveled.
Inter defender Jeison Murillo was sent off 10 minutes from time following a second yellow card, but the visitors still managed to force Palermo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino into more crucial saves.
Inter moved level on points with leaders ACF Fiorentina, who were due to host third-placed AS Roma yesterday. Inter are below Fiorentina on goal-difference, with both teams a point ahead of Roma.
“In the first half Palermo put us in difficulty because there was too much space between our attack and midfield,” Inter coach Roberto Mancini said. “We were unlucky at times, like when we had a player sent off. At the moment we are at the top, but we are not happy with this match because we wanted to win.”
Earlier, Empoli beat Genoa 2-0, while Bologna fought back to win 2-1 at fellow promoted side Carpi and move off the bottom of the table.
Inter were looking to return to the top of Serie A following two successive draws and a defeat, while Palermo had bounced back with victory at Bologna after four defeats in a row.
Palermo had the best of the early chances and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was decisive in denying Franco Vazquez twice.
It was not until the 50th minute that Sorrentino was properly tested as he dived to turn a Stevan Jovetic free-kick around his post.
Inter took the lead shortly after when substitute Jonathan Biabiany, who had only been on the pitch five minutes, latched on to a ball from Jovetic and put in a low cross from the right flank for Perisic to tap in at the far post.
It was the Croatia midfielder’s fourth goal in his past five matches — including international games.
However, following a corner, Vasquez put the ball in the penalty area and it went in off Gilardino’s shin from close range.
Inter could have won the game, but Sorrentino pulled off a sensational fingertip save to prevent Fredy Guarin’s shot from going under the bar and — after Murillo was sent off — stopped Biabiany’s effort from point-blank range.
Carpi fell to last place, two points from safety ahead of the rest of the weekend’s matches, and a point behind Bologna.
It was the first edition of the local derby in Serie A and Gaetano Letizia gave Carpi the lead in the 24th minute after Marco Borriello’s effort was blocked, but Carpi were reduced to 10 men in the 38th minute when Lorenzo Lollo was dismissed for a second booking.
Bologna captain Daniele Gastaldello leveled two minutes into the second half, turning in the rebound after Luca Rizzo’s effort crashed off the post.
Bologna snatched all three points deep in stoppage-time when Carpi goalkeeper Vid Belec flapped at Franco Brienza’s cross and Adam Masina tapped in at the far post.
In the first match of the day, Empoli broke the deadlock a minute from halftime.
Manuel Pucciarelli could not get on the end of a cross from Piotr Zielinski, but Rade Krunic was there to slot in at the back post for his first Serie A goal.
Zielinski also notched his first goal in Serie A shortly before the hour mark, heading in the rebound after Massimo Maccarone hit the bar.
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