Serie A: Inter Milan stumble to home draw vs. Hellas Verona
Inter Milan failed to win once again with Nico Lopez denying them all three points with a late equalizer for Hellas Verona in a 2-2 draw at San Siro.
Luca Toni gave Verona the lead in the 10th minute, but Mauro Icardi’s brace turned the game on its head.
Toni then had a penalty saved after Gary Medel was sent off for Inter, yet the 10-man Nerazzurri were unable to hold on as fatigue set in.
Lopez duly grabbed an equaliser in the 89th minute for Andrea Mandorlini’s men.
The pressure was on Inter coach Walter Mazzarri before the game and it will only increase with the club’s expectant fans seeing the gap to Serie A’s top three clubs growing even wider on Sunday.
It could have been worse, too, with Verona taking the lead by finishing off a four against three situation which seemed to be slipping away from them.
Artur Ionita’s cross to the far post was headed back across goal by Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and to Toni, who did not share his team-mate’s reluctance to shoot, volleying past Samir Handanovic.
Inter leveled with an almost carbon copy goal, Rodrigo Palacio heading the ball across goal for Icardi to volley home from close range.
It was the same combination which gave Inter the lead with Palacio sending the ball across goal almost intuitively for Icardi to lift it into the roof of the net at the far post.
At this stage, Inter looked comfortable, but when Medel raised his arms in the penalty area and blocked a shot, the tide turned.
He was sent off and Toni had the chance to level from the spot, but Handanovic saved his fifth penalty out of the last six – his 20th penalty save in Serie A – to deny the Verona frontman.
It was a let-off for Inter, but they gradually lost their grip of the game with only 10 men, and the accumulated tiredness from a grueling period of games.
Ionita volleyed over from a good position before Christodoulopoulos hit the underside of the crossbar with the ball bouncing down onto the line and out to safety.
Toni pulled a shot just wide with Inter hanging on for their lives, but with only a minute left to resist, they were beaten by Lopez, who turned up the heat on Mazzarri in front of watching club president Erick Thohir.
In Sunday’s other matches, Empoli snapped a three-game losing streak to inflict Lazio’s first defeat in seven matches with a 2-1 win at the Stadio Castellini.
Federico Barba put the Tuscan side in front on the hour mark, with Massimo Maccarone doubling their lead soon after.
Filip Djordjevic pulled a goal back for the Biancocelesti but they were unable to find an equalizer as they missed an opportunity to move level with Roma in second.
Paulo Dybala scored one penalty and missed another as Palermo dominated a 1-1 draw with Udinese at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
The in-form Argentinian striker cancelled out Cyril Thereau’s early opener from the spot just before the break and worked hardest in the pursuit of a winning goal for the Sicilians.
Visiting goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis thwarted him at nearly every turn, however, most importantly repelling his second spot-kick in the 53rd minute.
Sergio Pellissier was Chievo’s hero as his first two goals of the season lifted them off the foot of Serie A and above their opponents Cesena after a 2-1 win.
Ten-man Genoa missed an opportunity to win four consecutive top-flight games for the first time since 2009 and were lucky to take a point from a 1-1 draw at Cagliari.