A magic night from goalkeeper Riccardo Terracciano and a compact defensive display allowed Fiorentina to hold Inter to a 0-0 draw at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Wednesday.
The Viola goalkeeper repeatedly denied Romelu Lukaku in the first half, while a solid performance from the visitors’ back trio prevented the home side from taking all three points.
As a result, Inter were held to a scoreless draw in Serie A for just the second time this year, which leaves them one point behind second place Atalanta, also giving Lazio a chance to leapfrog the Milanese side with a win against Cagliari on Thursday.
The Nerazzurri had a better start, taking an aggressive approach aimed at forcing Fiorentina into their own box.
However, the home side’s first threat came quite fortuitously, when a poor clearance and a lucky rebound allowed Lukaku to turn and shoot from close range, but Riccardo Terracciano somehow managed to deny the Belgian.
The Fiorentina goalkeeper was involved again shortly after, as he did well to deflect a cross from Antonio Candreva, before Nicolo Barella forced another save with a powerful and precise attempt from the edge of the box.
A perfect Christian Eriksen delivery was met by Lukaku, whose towering header bounced off the post, as Fiorentina struggled to cope with the increasing pressure from the hosts.
The Belgian striker wasted another huge opportunity just after the half hour, when he pulled down an Ashley Young’s flick but failed to find the net from close range
Despite the intensity and pace on display, Inter couldn’t find the breakthrough in a first half which saw a wasteful Lukaku and in-form Terracciano keeping the game balanced.
The Nerazzurri had a goal disallowed five minutes after the restart, as Candreva was offside before volleying home yet another brilliant cross from Young.
Lukaku nicely set up Alexis Sanchez but the Chilean’s strike was palmed onto the post by Terracciano who then gathered at the second attempt.
Fiorentina eventually gave the hosts their first scare just before the hour mark, when Patrick Cutrone and Frank Ribery combined well to set up Gaetano Castrovilli, whose shot from a good position was straight at Samir Handanovic.
The Nerazzurri showed signs of fatigue as they struggled to reproduce the same intense pressing of the first half, with the Viola seemingly more at ease.
Federico Chiesa came on and immediately made his presence felt by teeing up Pol Lirola, but the Spaniard’s shot from close range was saved by Handanovic.
Substitutes Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic failed to make an impact, as the Nerazzurri found it increasingly hard to pose threat to a solid Fiorentina side.