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Serie A leaders Inter Milan failed to make the most of several Roma gifts as they were held to a 0-0 draw at San Siro on Friday to move a provisional two points clear of Juventus.
The result put Inter on 38 points but gave champions Juve the chance to regain top spot if they win at third-placed Lazio on Saturday. Roma are fourth with 29 points.
Before Friday’s match, Inter had scored at least one goal in each of their 19 matches since Antonio Conte replaced Luciano Spalletti as coach.
The build-up to the game was overshadowed when the Corriere dello Sport newspaper used the words “Black Friday” to describe the clash of Inter forward Romelu Lukaku and Roma defender Chris Smalling, with a front page photo of the two black players.
Lukaku described the headline as the dumbest he had ever seen.
“These are the games where you have to score goals because we had the chances and we forced them to make errors with our pressure and the runs from midfield,” said Conte.
“We could have been more determined in front of goal and we would have brought home the three points.”
Inter were handed an early present when Jordan Veretout‘s backpass was intercepted by Lukaku but the Belgian international’s shot was saved by Antonio Mirante.
Roma pressed the self-destruct button twice just before halftime when Diego Perotti gave the ball away to Matias Vecino who failed to take advantage and then Mirante passed to Lukaku on the edge of the area, a chance which was also squandered.
In between, Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo tested Samir Handanovic in one of their few genuine chances.
Mirante also produced a fine fingertip save early in the second to keep out another Vecino effort.
Late in the game, Lautaro Martinez failed to make proper contact with Vecino’s inviting pass into the area and Gianluca Mancini was able to clear the danger for Roma.
“We made some wrong choices in the final third of the field but we played well,” said Roma coach Paulo Fonseca. “There were some moments where we were in complete control of the match.
“We tried to play without fear. We made some mistakes but I want courage.”