Captain Mauro Icardi on Wednesday missed a sitter and had a goal disallowed by the video assistant referee (VAR) as Inter drew 0-0 with AC Milan in the rain.
Inter remain fourth in the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot, one point behind AS Roma, with AC Milan’s hopes of elite European soccer next season taking a knock as they remain sixth.
Inter thought they had taken the lead on 38 minutes when Icardi latched onto a Antontio Candreva through ball and tucked it away under AC Milan captain Leonardi Bonucci’s leg, but the VAR ruled the Argentine to be offside.
Icardi — who has scored 24 times in Serie A this season — proved wasteful again, missing two chances in the second half, the first with the goal at his mercy.
“These things happen, I’m only sorry because winning could be important for Inter,” coach Luciano Spalletti said.
However, he believes that his side are “even better” than at the start of the season, when they went unbeaten until Dec. 16 last year.
“In the first few months I was very critical, because even when we won, we didn’t play very well,” Spalletti said. “I’m happy with what the guys are doing, now I see a team that has character and knows where it wants to go.”
In Inter’s previous three games they held title-chasing SSC Napoli to a goalless draw and claimed back-to-back wins over UC Sampdoria and AC Chievo Verona, scoring eight goals in the process.
Milan were on a 10-match unbeaten run until a 3-1 defeat by Juventus over the weekend.
However, Spalletti believes their city rivals are still in the running for the Champions League places, despite being eight points adrift.
“AC Milan is a direct competitor, winning today we would have cut them out, but they are still there,” Spalletti said.
The Milan derby had been rescheduled after last month’s game was postponed following the death of ACF Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, a former AC Milan player.
Before the game, the fans in the San Siro joined in the minute’s applause to honor another former AC Milan player and former England captain Ray Wilkins, who died earlier in the day aged 61.
Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic and Candreva had early shots on goal, but AC Milan went close on 21 minutes, when Bonucci’s header from a free-kick was diverted away by the outstretched hand of Samir Handanovic.
After the break, Inter threatened again when midfielder Ivan Perisic’s cross bounced off the bar, with Milan’s Patrick Cutrone’s acrobatic goal after 68 minutes also deemed to be offside.
“I’m happy with this point,” AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said. “We risked conceding more than one goal. Inter deserved something more, they really made us suffer.”
“I congratulate Inter for the match, they’ve changed something and in the last few games and found mechanisms that can put you in great difficulty,” he said. “We’ll fight for a Champions League qualifying spot while there is still hope.”
Inter next travel to Torino, who beat Crotone 4-1 thanks to an Andrea Belotti hat-trick, while AC Milan host US Sassuolo, who were held 1-1 by Chievo.
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