Inter held at Roma to leave Juventus closer to Serie A title

MILAN (AFP) – Inter Milan missed a chance to keep the pressure on Juventus after being held 2-2 at Roma early yesterday, leaving the way clear for the Turin giants to close in on a ninth consecutive Serie A title.

Romelu Lukaku’s penalty two minutes from time rescued a point for Antonio Conte’s Inter, who are second, five points behind Juventus.

Juve can open up an eight-point lead on the top of the table when they host fourth-placed Lazio.

Stefan De Vrij had got Inter off the mark at the Stadio Olimpico when he headed home an Alexis Sanchez corner after 14 minutes.

But Roma captain Edin Dzeko set up Leonardo Spinazzola for the equaliser in first half stoppage time and was again involved when Henrikh Mkhitaryan got the second in the 57th minute.

Roma’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan controls the ball. PHOTO: AP

Lukaku came off the bench and scored from the spot late after Spinazzola fouled Victor Moses.

It was a stalemate which does little to help either team, and boosts Juventus’ chances of extending their record Serie A run.

“We have to get used to playing these big games with so much pressure, which is something Inter have lost in recent years,” said Conte, whose side have not won Serie A since 2010, when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho.

“I can’t blame my players for anything, today we faced a team in good shape,” he continued.

“Our team is doing excellent things. Beyond the second place, we are into the Champions League.”

Inter cannot be caught by Roma, who are fifth and nine points adrift of the Champions League places, 14 behind Inter with four matches to play.

They are one point ahead of third-placed Atalanta, who have also qualified for Europe’s top competition after Inter’s draw in the Italian capital.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso was unhappy with the league’s tight schedule as his side beat Udinese 2-1.

Napoli are two points behind Roma in sixth after Matteo Politano blasted in the winner five minutes into injury time to snatch all three points.

“It was an important victory even if now we’re playing another sport which worries me,” said Gattuso.

“This is not football. Playing every three days and without fans is something different, the players are not robots.”

Gattuso’s side are out of the running for the Champions League next season but are preparing to meet Barcelona in the second leg of their last 16 tie in this year’s edition, with both sides locked at 1-1.