Diego Milito had a penalty saved for the second game on the trot, as Inter were held to a disappointing draw by Atalanta.
The Nerazzurri ended their run of two points from nine official games last week with a late victory at Chievo, but on Tuesday confidence collapsed again with their Champions League exit at the hands of Olympique Marseille.
Wesley Sneijder, Dejan Stankovic, Cristian Chivu, Ricky Alvarez and Fredy Guarin were unavailable, so Claudio Ranieri returned to the 4-4-2 system with Giampaolo Pazzini and Diego Milito. Atalanta had to make this visit without star striker German Denis due to a calf injury, plus Matteo Brighi, Federico Peluso, Stefano Lucchini and Daniele Capelli, so Under-21 international Guido Marilungo took the reins.
This is a Lombardy derby, as Milan and Bergamo are very close by. Javier Zanetti got to the by-line and pulled back, but there were no teammates ready to make the most of the assist. At the other end, Douglas Maicon had to rush back and intercept the Maxi Moralez through ball that threatened to release Alessandro Carrozza. Maicon blasted off target from another Zanetti pull-back.
Inter were awarded a penalty when Giampaolo Bellino nearly took Pazzini’s shirt off, although replays suggest they were also wrestling each other. Diego Milito had a penalty saved in the last game against Chievo and did it again, his precise but very weak spot-kick palmed round the post by Andrea Consigli.
From that corner, Walter Samuel’s header bounced off Consigli’s chest and the goalkeeper was able to scramble on to the loose ball before anyone could pounce.
Luca Cigarini risked a red card for clipping Joel Obi’s heel with his studs, but received a yellow and a stern warning from the referee. Cristian Raimondi blasted over the bar for Atalanta, while Pazzini’s header and angled drive were both too weak to trouble Consigli.
Esteban Cambiasso wanted a free kick on the edge of the box when Tomas Manfredini’s sliding tackle charged down the shot, then the midfielder tripped over his prone form, but the referee judged it to be part of play rather than obstruction. Atalanta saw Marilungo stretchered off with a suspected sprained knee after he landed awkwardly in a challenge with Lucio.
Consigli flew to palm away an Andrea Poli screamer from 25 metres, while Manfredini’s header from an Atalanta corner whistled just wide. In perhaps a bad sign for Ranieri, President Massimo Moratti left the stadium a good 25 minutes before the final whistle.
Substitute Manolo Gabbiadini, also an Under-21 international striker, went close to giving Atalanta the lead with a swerving header that Julio Cesar leapt to palm out of the far top corner.
Lucio didn’t get enough power on to his header from a Cambiasso free kick, but there was controversy when Atalanta were denied a penalty for Lucio’s scissor tackle on Gabbiadini. The referee waved play on, but replays do not clarify whether he got even a stud to the ball.
Julio Cesar flapped at a Raimondi cross and blocked the Ferreira Pinto follow-up at the near post. Walter Samuel was booked for a foul and will be suspended for the next game with Juventus.
Missed penalty: Milito 23 (I)