Icardi misses 2 easy chances as Inter draws 0-0 at Milan

AC Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu, foreground, and Inter Milan's Roberto Gagliardini vie for the ball during an Italian Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Inter Milan, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

MILAN (AP) Mauro Icardi missed two great chances as his Inter Milan side was held 0-0 at AC Milan in an entertaining Serie A derby on Wednesday.

Icardi is chasing the league’s top scorer award with 24 goals, including six in his past two matches, but somehow shot wide twice from close range- including one in stoppage time.

”Sometimes he has scored goals that others wouldn’t have scored, so it’s normal that today he didn’t score where others would have,” Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said with a smile.

Inter remained in fourth place, the final Champions League qualifying berth. Spalletti’s side has two points more than Lazio and eight more than Milan, which saw its hopes of sneaking into Europe’s top club competition diminish.

Milan lacked the fight and energy that has come to characterize the team since Gennaro Gattuso took over, especially as the match wore on.

”We were very lucky in parts. Inter played better than us,” Gattuso said. ”While there’s hope we have to fight, there are still eight matches remaining and there are a lot of points at stake. But now we have to get our energy back. In the last 20 minutes we made a lot of mistakes, you could see the players weren’t doing well physically.”

The derby was originally scheduled for March 4 but was rescheduled along with the rest of that day’s fixtures following the sudden death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori.

Before the match, former Milan captain Franco Baresi paid tribute to former teammate Ray Wilkins, who died on Wednesday.

Baresi put a wreath down in front of the section with Milan’s hardcore fans and held aloft a shirt bearing Wilkins’ name. There was also a minute’s applause in honor of the former England captain, who played for Milan for three years.

Milan had lost in the league to Inter earlier in the season but had beaten the Nerazzurri in the Italian Cup quarterfinals.

It was a cagey start from both teams with Inter having the better of the early opportunities but Milan went closest in the 22nd minute when Hakan Calhanoglu whipped in a free kick and Leonardo Bonucci’s header was tipped off the line by Samir Handanovic at full stretch.

Patrick Cutrone scored the extra-time winner against Inter in the cup and he almost netted again against the Nerazzurri, but his effort was easily saved by Handanovic after he was sent through by a delightful backheel from Giacomo Bonaventura.

Inter thought it had taken the lead seven minutes from the break but Icardi’s goal was ruled out for offside after a video review.

Inter started the second half brightly and an Ivan Perisic cross hit the top of the crossbar before the first big miss from Icardi. Antonio Candreva’s cross found the Argentina forward unmarked, five yards out from an empty goal, but he somehow managed to sidefoot the ball wide.

Cutrone almost scored a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque goal in the 68th but his overheard kick was ruled out for offside.

Icardi should have won the match for Inter in stoppage time but he prodded the ball wide of an empty net again, from two yards out, although he was sliding in and at full stretch.

OTHER MATCHES

Sassuolo snatched a 1-1 draw at fellow struggler Chievo Verona despite going down to nine men.

Claud Adjapong was sent off in the 29th for a reckless tackle on Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino and teammate Francesco Magnanelli was also dismissed six minutes from time following a second yellow card.

By that point Sassulo was 1-0 up thanks to Emanuele Giaccherini and appeared to be heading for a vital win, but Francesco Cassata’s long-range free kick went past everyone and into the bottom corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Both teams moved onto 29 points. They are five points above the relegation zone and 18th-placed Crotone, which lost 4-1 at Torino following Andrea Belotti’s hat trick.

Earlier, bottom side Benevento beat 19th-placed Hellas Verona 3-0. It is still 13 points from safety.