Second-placed AS Roma will lose further ground to league leaders Juventus in the Serie A title race on Sunday, should the bianconeri pick up a win away at AC Milan. That's after the Romanisti were held to a goalless draw at home to Inter Milan on Saturday, despite creating a string of second half opportunities to break the deadlock.
Rudi Garcia's side started the match with characteristic verve, but couldn't convert their early dominance into any real opportunities; missing an accurate final ball to slice open Inter's shaky back line. Save for Adem Ljajić's straightforward free-kick, the hosts failed to test Inter keeper Samir Handanović at all in the opening exchanges.
In fact, the more dangerous of the two sides in the first half was the visitors, who did manage to create a handful of good attempts on Morgan De Sanctis' goal. The best came after 20 minutes, when Ricky Álvarez curled a perfect free-kick into the box for an unmarked Rodrigo Palacio, though the Argentine got under the ball and cleared the crossbar with his header.
His teammate Yuto Nagatomo also missed the target from a good position, and was nearly made to pay the price inside the final 15 minutes of the half. Fortunately for him, Mattia Destro was correctly adjudged to have been in an offside position when he prodded Radja Nainggolan's flick inside the far post.
The second half started as the first had, with Roma reasserting themselves as the most dominant side, but still missing the final ball. It was as if the whole team had been infected with Gervinhoitis -- perfectly capable of building attacks until they got to the penalty area, where things suddenly went horribly pear-shaped.
A good chance arose with 25 minutes remaining, with Roma right-back Vasilis Torosidis delivering a low cross into the area from the right. It trickled right through to Gervinho at the back post, though Rolando was on hand to slide the ball behind for a corner, just as the Ivorian was about to pull the trigger.
However, the game's greatest opportunity came ten minutes later, as Roma continued to push for the winning goal. Destro found himself sent through on goal for the first time all evening, though was thwarted by an excellent diving stop from the on-form Handanović. Despite a continued late surge, that was as close as the giallorossi came to opening the scoring.
The draw means Roma provisionally move within eight points of league leaders Juventus, though that gap will open out to 11 if the bianconeri beat Milan on Sunday. They're quickly running out of time to close their big deficit. As for Inter, they move three points clear of Hellas Verona in fifth place, though that gap should be shut down by a mastini victory over Bologna on Sunday.
AS Roma: De Sanctis; Romagnoli, Castán, Benatia, Torosidis; Strootman, De Rossi, Nainggolan; Ljajić (Pjanić 55'), Destro (Bastos 81'), Gervinho (Florenzi 89').
Inter Milan: Handanović; Juan Jesus, Samuel, Rolando; Nagatomo, Cambiasso, Álvarez (Hernanes 64'), Guarín, Jonathan (Zanetti 88'); Icardi (Botta 74'), Palacio.