Once again Inter wasted numerous scoring opportunities and were denied by heroic Simone Scuffet for a 0-0 draw with Udinese.
The Nerazzurri had the chance to close within a point of fourth-placed Fiorentina, but were fresh from a 2-1 home defeat to Atalanta. Juan Jesus returned from his three-match ban, while Walter Samuel and Yuto Nagatomo were also back in the starting XI. Udinese had Dusan Basta suspended and opted to rest Antonio Di Natale and Gianpiero Pinzi, picking Colombian international Luis Muriel.
Inter President Erick Thohir was in the stands, but the last time Udinese were at San Siro they knocked them out of the Coppa Italia in January.
The visitors had the first chance after two minutes when Widmer sprinted to the by-line and pulled back for Muriel, but Samir Handanovic smothered at his feet.
Samuel used his strength to stop Widmer again causing huge problems down Udinese’s right flank after he had flicked the ball over his marker.
Allan bravely charged down an Esteban Cambiasso strike, while Samuel did the same at the other end on Muriel’s rapid counter-attack. Muriel caused another corner and the crowd started to murmur at the Nerazzurri’s performance.
Fredy Guarin hit a powerful free kick over the bar from distance, but Udinese had a great chance on 40 minutes.
Handanovic beat away a Bruno Fernandes snapshot with real difficulty and Emmanuelo Badu pounced on the follow-up, but it was deflected on to the side-netting by a desperate Samuel tackle.
Inter went on the counter and Mauro Icardi cut back past defenders only to balloon off target.
Bruno Fernandes was again threatening, rolling a ball into the six-yard box from the right that Muriel just failed to make contact with as he came sliding in.
The second half kicked off in a similar vein, as Badu got away from Hernanes down the right and caught the Inter defence napping, but Juan Jesus intercepted the pull-back for Muriel. Simone Scuffet had precious little to do on his San Siro debut, but the 17-year-old kept his cool to pluck a dangerous Cambiasso cross off the head of Icardi. Andrea Ranocchia almost scored by accident, as his wayward cross turned into a shot that sailed just over the bar.
Handanovic got down to block a Pereyra curler with the inside of the right boot, while a Hernanes free kick whipped over the wall and just past the near top corner.
Palacio spun his marker to test Scuffet at the near post with a weak finish and Danilo did very well to cut off Icardi, who hesitated when trying to pick his spot from the edge of the box.
Scuffet finally had a difficult save to make after 64 minutes, flying to palm a Hernanes snapshot round the near post. From that corner, Samuel was allowed a free header only to turn it wide.
The hosts were piling on pressure now and Hernanes nodded off target from a Nagatomo cross. Nagatomo’s shot was heading towards a crowd of legs, so Icardi tried to flick it on to surprise Scuffet, but missed the target from six yards.
It was all Inter at this stage and Hernanes stung Scuffet’s gloves at the near stick, while Palacio’s cross was lobbed back in by Icardi at the back post for the goalkeeper to pluck out of the air.
Inter somehow failed to score at the 87th minute. First Scuffet performed a stunning reaction save on Cambiasso’s half-volley from nine yards, then Danilo D’Ambrosio’s follow-up was acrobatically cleared off the line with a Maurizio Domizzi overhead kick.
Under the siege, Allan almost went clear on goal and was barged off the ball by Samuel, who earned a yellow card.
A Juan Jesus snapshot from distance was deflected off target, Palacio nodded over and there were penalty appeals for a Heurtaux handling offence, as Palacio’s cross hit his elbow.
Despite all their attempts, the San Siro crowd jeered angrily at the final whistle.