Inter’s European hopes take a hit

Fiorentina had a penalty saved as Inter Milan held on for a goalless draw in Tuscany.

Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar brought down Fiorentina’s Andrea Lazzari in the 69th minute but then kept out Adem Ljajic’s spot-kick.

The outcome leaves Inter unbeaten under coach Andrea Stramaccioni, who replaced Claudio Ranieri last month, and helps keep them in the Champions League picture.

Inter are seventh in the standings and five points behind Lazio, who occupy the final qualifying place and host Lecce later.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, are struggling just four points clear of the relegation zone.

A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off in memory of Livorno player Piermario Morosini, who collapsed and died last weekend during a Serie B game.

The visitors had the first chance in the fifth minute when Diego Forlan’s 30-yard attempt was saved by Fiorentina goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

The Nerazzurri continued to dominate possession and came close to taking the lead before the half-hour mark.

Forlan fed Mauro Zarate in the left side of the area and his angled effort went just wide of the far post.

Fiorentina had their first real chance before half-time when Valon Behrami set up Alessio Cerci in the box but his left-footed strike went over the bar.

Inter picked up where they left off after the restart but Zarate’s drive from outside the area was off target.

Just when the Nerazzurri were playing at their best, the referee awarded a penalty against them but Julio Cesar dived full-stretch to his right to save Ljajic’s effort.

Ljajic was replaced soon after and went straight to the changing room.

Inter went in search of the winner but were denied by some good goalkeeping from Boruc, who kept out Zarate’s effort from the edge of the area in the 85th minute.

ith seconds remaining, Diego Milito controlled Maicon’s cross before unleashing a powerful strike that was cleared by Boruc.