Subdued Inter held by battling Roma
Inter Milan's lead at the top of Serie A was cut to five points after their five-game winning streak came to an end following a 1-1 draw against Roma on Sunday.
A subdued Inter went behind early on to Mirko Vucinic's header as Roma had the better of the opening period. Inter coach Jose Mourinho threw caution to the wind at half-time, lining his side with four attackers, but despite Samuel Eto'o's 48th-minute equaliser, there was no grandstand finish for the tired-looking champions.
"I didn't like the game at all- it was pretty awful," admitted Mourinho. "The only thing we can take from it is a point which is fine as Roma are a quality side. We were there for the taking tonight but fortunately they looked like they were happy with a draw."
Roma coach Claudio Ranieri was pleased with the performance but angry with the tactics of his opponents. "We played well, created chances but were fouled so much we should have worn armour," he complained.
With Juventus and AC Milan both winning, the race for the scudetto is very much back on, while Roma, on 15 points, moved up a place to 13th. Roma began purposefully and should have taken the lead after two minutes.
Vucinic was put clean through by a combination of Daniele De Rossi and Jeremy Menez passes, but took an age to shoot and was robbed by Lucio. The Montenegrin made amends after 13 minutes, meeting a long, crossfield ball from Marco Motta to loop a perfect 15-yard header over Julio Cesar and into the corner to give the visitors the lead.
Inter, starting without talisman Wesley Sneijder, almost hit back four minutes later when Diego Milito cleverly worked space in the box but Julio Sergio, replacing the injured Doni between the posts, acrobatically turned aside the Argentine's effort. Roma were dealt a blow when their captain De Rossi was forced to leave the field following an aerial collision with Patrick Vieira.
But the Giallorossi continued to search for a second and were almost rewarded when John Arne Riise fired inches wide from distance on 37 minutes. Mourinho brought on Sneijder and a third forward in Marco Balotelli at the break, and within three minutes of the restart Inter were level.
Eto'o collected a precise Thiago Motta pass, turned and finished sweetly with his left foot into the far corner. Roma, runners-up to Inter three times in the past four seasons, refused to lie down and only a sprawling save from Cesar prevented Menez from capping a fine display with a goal on 63 minutes.
The Brazilian goalkeeper was brought into action again after 80 minutes blocking substitute Ricardo Faty's awkward shot as Inter ended the match on the back foot. Earlier, AC Milan moved into third after surviving late pressure to defeat Lazio 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.
Brazilians Thiago Silva and Pato buried headers in the 21st and 35th minutes, and although Zarate responded in the 64th minute, it was not enough to prevent the Rossoneri from extending their unbeaten run to seven matches. Milan move to 22 points, two behind second-place Juventus, who thrashed Atalanta 5-2 on Saturday.
"When we're on top, we look great but when we're under pressure, we suffer - that's the risk when you play with an attacking line-up," said coach Leonardo. "We are probably still a bit unbalanced as a team so we need to learn how to put a side away."
An 84th-minute strike from Peruvian Juan Vargas for Fiorentina against Udinese saw La Viola move fourth, level on 21 points with stuttering Sampdoria, who were sunk 2-0 at Cagliari.