Inter Milan spurned the chance to take command of Italy’s top flight after a pulsating scoreless draw with Juventus that set a new Serie A record gate receipt record at a sold out San Siro on Sunday.
The ‘Derby d’Italia’ is one of the most popular fixtures in Italy and a total of 79,154 spectators turned out to watch the 165th edition at Inter’s shared ground, producing a new all-time gate receipt of 3,740,051 euros.
Roberto Mancini’s highflyers hosted the four-time consecutive Serie A champions looking for their first home win in the derby since 2010, when Jose Mourinho led the Nerazzuri to an unprecedented treble of league, Cup and Champions League.
A home win would also have pushed Juve 11 points adrift of Inter and even further away from successfully defending their title.
In the end, the hosts were forced to settle for a share of the spoils, leaving Fiorentina, despite their 2-1 defeat to Napoli earlier Sunday, top of the pile with a one-point cushion on Roma.
Mancini admitted: “It was a tough game, difficult for both sides. It wasn’t easy to create chances and there weren’t so many in the end.
“It was an important game because winning would have reinforced what we’ve achieved so far this season and pushed Juve further out of the equation.
“But we have to settle for a draw. It was the fair result.”
Inter remain third, on 17 points, with Napoli, Sassuolo and Lazio all two points adrift.
Juventus, eight points behind Inter overnight amid what has been a terrible start to the season, now have nine points from eight games and sit 10 points adrift of Fiorentina.
Three days before hosting Borussia Moenchengladbach, looking to claim their third consecutive win in the group stages of the Champions League, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was buoyed with a performance that he believes has reminded Juve’s rivals they are not finished yet.
“I don’t know if we will win the league title this season but we’ll be in the mix,” Allegri said.
“Right now, we can’t pay too much attention to results but by Christmas I want us to halve our deficit and by March want us to be close to the top of the league.
“To do that we need consistency, and to start scoring more goals. A team that doesn’t score won’t win the league title.”
Juventus were quickly out the blocks and on-loan Chelsea forward Juan Cuadrado was denied by Samir Handanovic after just three minutes.
But Inter bossed the opening half and Marcelo Brozovic came close to a spectacular winner when he fired a curling drive after a corner that Gianluigi Buffon tipped onto his bar and back out into play.
Juventus survived a first half onslaught to settle into their game in a far more open second half, but when their best chance came Sami Khedira could only fire off the base of the post after being set up by Alvaro Morata.
It was Juve’s best chance of the game and left them hoping to convert a dwindling number of half-chances in the closing minutes.
Mandzukic had replaced Morata on 71 minutes and he failed to connect cleanly with a cross from the right, and then Cuadrado’s cut-back from the right byline found no takers.