Milan held by hard-working Chievo

A comfortable victory in Verona would have boosted Filippo Inzaghi’s men to within three points of fifth-placed Fiorentina but relegation-threatened Chievo needed the point more and worked hard for it.

Keisuke Honda came closest to breaking the deadlock with an audacious effort shortly after half-time and Chievo might have snatched several goals on the break had Diego Lopez not been switched on.

An opportunity to reach sixth place was right there for Milan but for some reason Inzaghi’s team were strangely reticent on Saturday night.

Andrea Poli picked out the run of Mattia Destro in the eighth minute yet despite the fact the on-loan Roma striker got the better of Dario Dainelli, his shot would not really threaten Albano Bizzarri.

The Chievo goalkeeper soon took the sting out of Alex’s free-kick before Daniele Bonera could put his foot through the ball.

In the 26th minute the Flying Donkeys went close to opening the scoring through Ervin Zukanovic’s swerving cross-shot yet Lopez made himself big to cover the danger.

Milan emerged for the second half with more purpose and it only took substitute Honda three minutes to clatter the ball against Bizzarri’s crossbar from the D after he had wriggled his way into space.

Lopez almost gifted a goal to 15th-placed Chievo in the 54th minute, his poor distribution allowing Sergio Pellissier to steal in from the left where he was only denied a finish by the quick-thinking Alex.

The hosts sensed weakness and kept pushing with Ezequiel Schelotto forcing Lopez into a desperate save before Nigel de Jong made a brave clearance with Riccardo Meggiorini bearing down on goal.

The Dutchman could not finish the match due to injury, and his replacement Alessio Cerci made a bright impact from the bench as he took aim at the far post, where Bizzarri only just managed to intervene.

Try as they might, though, Milan could not make the breakthrough and four minutes of stoppage time in Verona were not enough.