It was honours even between Inter Milan and Roma and Palermo and Empoli in Saturday’s Serie A action from Italy.
Nainggolan denies Inter
Roma had the first chance of the match in the opening minutes when Mohamed Salah sprinted down the right flank to get on the end of Radja Nainggolan’s through ball, with Stephan El Shaarawy coming close on the cutback before the ball fell to Diego Perotti to blast just over the crossbar.
The Romans were rampant in the opening stages and came close again when Perotti slipped El Shaarawy through on goal and the former Milan striker’s ball across the face of goal required a last-ditch lunge from Yuto Nagatomo before Salah could get on the end of it.
The next chance fell to Inter in the 18th minute when Adem Ljalic got down the left flank all the way to the byline and slipped it across goal towards Eder, but a combination of Kostas Manolas and Wojciech Szczesny stamped out the danger.
Salah had the ball in the back of the net in the 35th minute when he took down a long ball over the top with a perfect first touch before finishing it cooly over the goalkeeper on the volley, but the offside flag was up.
Salah then set up the next chance with a clever ball over the top for El Shaarawy to smash on the half-volley that brought a fantastic save out of Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic to keep the sides level at halftime.
It didn’t take long for the second half to produce a goal, and it was Inter who drew first blood when the Croatian duo of Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic combined to lethal effect, with the former slipping the latter through on goal to finish with a neat finish past Szczesny.
Handanovic was in action again in the 80th minute to close down Salah after the Egyptian was put through one-on-one, but was let off by El Shaarawy a few minutes before when the striker could only fire into the side netting from close-range.
Nagatomo then adopted the mantle of Inter hero when he cleared the ball off the line after an error from Danilo D’Ambrosio almost had his side in trouble.
But it didn’t matter as Roma made the breakthrough just a minute later when Edin Dzeko, who had been profligate all night, saw his shot blocked but pop up into the path of Nainggolan for a sliding finish that earned the Romans a point.
Palermo hold Empoli
Elsewhere in Italy, Palermo earned a point from their visit to the Stadio Carlo Castellani after a 0-0 draw with Empoli.
Mário Rui missed an early chance for Empoli when he blasted over the crossbar, and Leandro Paredes was also wayward with his shooting in the 16th minute.
Robin Quaison of Palermo then forced a save in the 18th minute with a header that was straight at the goalkeeper.
Empoli threatened again through Manuel Pucciarelli, who also headed over the bar from Mário Rui’s cross in the 26th minute.
Stefano Sorrentino in the Palermo goal was threatened again when Leandro Paredes forced him into a diving save in the 32nd minute, before Manuel Pucciarelli did the same five minutes later.
The second half began as the first ended, with Massimo Maccarone and Piotr Zielinski both having shots at goal before Aleksandar Trajkovski of Palermo missed the target from a promising free kick situation.
But Empoli were back on the offensive in the 72nd and 75th minutes with Massimo Maccarone heading over the bar and Riccardo Saponara skewing his shot off target.
Franco Vázquez of Palermo caused some problems down the other end with an effort from a tight angle that needed saving before Aljaz Struna missed a great chance after 78 minutes as the points were shared.
The Sicilians are now in danger of dropping into the relegation zone depending on the results Frosinone and Carpi, who play on Sunday, as they are just two points above the drop zone and without a win in their last nine games.
Empoli, meanwhile, remain 10th in the Serie A standings after failing to win in any of their last 11 league matches.