Captain Mauro Icardi missed a sitter and had a goal disallowed by the video assistant referee as Inter Milan drew 0-0 with AC Milan in the rain on Wednesday.
Inter remain fourth in the final Champions League qualifying spot, one point behind Roma, with AC Milan’s hopes of elite European football next season taking a knock as they remain sixth.
Inter thought they had taken the lead on 38 minutes when Icardi latched onto a Antontio Candreva through ball and tucked it away under AC Milan captain Leonardi Bonucci’s leg, but VAR ruled the Argentine to be offside.
Icardi — who has scored 24 times in Serie A this season — proved wasteful again missing two chances in the second half, the first with the goal at his mercy.
“These things happen, I’m only sorry because winning could be important for Inter,” said coach Luciano Spalletti.
The Inter coach believes however his side are “even better” than the start of the season when they went unbeaten until December 16.
“In the first few months I was very critical because even when we won, we didn’t play very well,” he said. “I’m happy with what the guys are doing, now I see a team that has character and knows where it wants to go.”
In Inter’s previous three games they held title-chasing Napoli to a goalless draw and claimed back-to-back wins over Sampdoria and Verona, scoring eight goals in the process.
Milan were on a 10-match unbeaten run until losing 3-1 to champions Juventus in Turin at the weekend.
But Spalletti believes their city rivals are still in the running for the Champions League places despite being eight points adrift.
“AC Milan is a direct competitor, winning today we would have cut them out, but they are still there,” added Spalletti.
The Milan derby had been rescheduled after last month’s game was postponed following the death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, a former AC Milan player.
And before the game the fans in the San Siro joined in the minute’s applause to honour another former Milan player and ex-England captain Ray Wilkins, who died earlier in the day aged 61.