Relegation-haunted Bologna dent Inters Euro hopes

05 April 2014 10:02

Argentine striker Diego Milito missed a late penalty as Inter Milan's Europa League hopes were kept in check by a 2-2 draw with relegation-threatened Bologna at the San Siro on Saturday.

Inter remained fifth with a three-point lead on Parma but the pressure is now on coach Walter Mazzarri, whose side have now failed to win in their last four league outings.

Despite Milito coming off the bench and missing what was Inter's first league penalty award since May 2013, Mazzarri refused to blame any of his side.

"It was logical that Milito stepped up to take the penalty -- he's always taken them and he had fresher legs than Rodrigo Palacio at that stage of the game," Mazzarri told Sky Sport.

"We gave it everything and although I don't think we were unlucky we simply had things go against us.

"Bologna's first goal went in through a crowded area and their second because Rolando slipped."

However Mazzarri, who led Napoli to the runner-up spot last year, added: "It's the fourth time we've dropped points following a strong performance that I thought we should have won.

"Now, somehow I need to lift the team's morale."

Muro Icardi scored a brace for the hosts and after just six minutes allayed early fears when he got on the end of Yuto Nagatomo's cross from the left to sweep a volley past Gianluca Curci.

Yet Inter president and owner Erick Thohir, who had called for action from his misfiring side after flying in from Jakarta on Friday, saw Inter jeered off at half-time after they wasted several chances and saw Bologna come close more than once.

Samir Handanovic had to parry a long-range effort from Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and then Andrea Mantovani sent a glancing header wide of the keeper's far post.

Handanovic then tipped a Cesare Natali header out from under the bar following a free kick, while at the other end Rodrigo Palacio saw his drive curl round Curci's far post.

Halfway through, Inter lost Juan Jesus after the defender clashed with Christodoulopoulos and was soon replaced by veteran Walter Samuel.

Barely 10 minutes later Bologna pulled level in spectacular fashion.

Handanovic blocked Christodoulopoulos's effort from close range but could not stop Panagiotis Kone's first-time daisycutter from the rebound, which took a slight deflection off Cristaldo -- credited with the goal -- on its way into the net.

Icardi restored Inter's lead 18 mins into second half, but their joy was short-lived.

Barely 10 minutes later Mantovani's cross from the left caused a defensive mix-up between Cambiasso and Rolando, and Kone pounced to sweep the ball past Handanovic.

Inter were handed a lifeline seven minutes from full-time when Palacio was impeded in the area as he tried to reach Icardi's smart cutback.

But Inter's hearts sank when Curci dived to his right to save Milito's somewhat tame effort from the spot.

Inter were even lucky to escape with a draw with Handanovic saving the hosts' blushes in injury time.

Christodoulopoulos did well to chase the ball down the left and although his centre found Roberto Acquafresca the forward was twice denied by the Inter keeper.

Earlier, veteran striker Luca Toni struck his 16th goal in Serie A this season to help Verona to a 1-0 win in the 'Derby della Scala' away to city rivals Chievo.

Following a challenge with Gennaro Sardo, Toni pounced on a loose ball in the Chievo box to beat Michael Agazzi in the hosts' net for a 65th minute winner.

Verona's 14th win of the campaign moved them up to eighth, and they now sit four points adrift of Inter in fifth spot.

Former World Cup winner Toni, meanwhile, said he would not refuse the chance of a call-up to Cesare Prandelli's side for this summer's tournament.

"Why not?" said the 36-year-old. "If strikers who have scored fewer goals than me are in contention then I probably should be too."

Source: AFP