Inter and Lazio both lost ground in the Serie A title race on Saturday evening, playing out a tense 0-0 draw to boost the Scudetto hopes of rivals Napoli, who won 1-0 at Crotone on Friday night.
The game was one of few chances, with neither side willing to throw their full attacking might at the other until the dying moments – leaving Roma breathing a sigh of relief as the teams either side of them in third and fifth failed to make them pay for dropping two points against Sassuolo earlier in the day.
Both sides made a small handful of changes from their midweek Coppa Italia ties, Yuto Nagatomo and Joao Mario dropping to the bench for Inter after a 120-minute epic against AC Milan at the San Siro – being replaced by Davide Santon and Borja Valero.
The first genuine chance of the game came midway through a cagey first half, a brilliant save from Lazio’s young stopper Thomas Strakosha denying Ivan Perisic from point-blank range after Borja Valero’s ball in from the left.
Inter began to open up more as the game approached half-time, but an injury to Andrea Ranocchia just before the break killed all of their momentum stone dead – the one-time Hull City loanee getting medical attention on more than one occasion as he struggled with an apparent injury to his torso.
Lazio’s only chance of the first half came through Sergej Milinković-Savić, whose fierce long-range drive swerved ferociously before being palmed away strongly by Samir Handanovic.
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Strakosha came to Lazio’s rescue again near the hour mark, palming a vicious strike from Valero onto the post before the game’s most controversial moment arrived – referee Gianluca Rocchi pointing to the penalty spot after Ciro Immobile’s shot came off Milan Škriniar’s arm.
One trip to the VAR booth later though, and the decision was overturned; replays showing that the ball only hit the Slovakian defender’s arm after bouncing off his leg, leaving him no time to avoid touching the ball.
Felipe Anderson had a fantastic chance to snatch a winner with just ten minutes remaining, firing wide from the edge of the six-yard box when it looked easier to score after being set up brilliantly by Immobile.