Inter in goalless stalemate as Champions League race tightens

Milan (AFP) –


Inter Milan missed a chance to consolidate third position in Serie A on Saturday being held to a goalless draw by struggling Udinese for their third consecutive stalemate.

Luciano Spalletti's side have a four-point cushion on Atalanta, who are fourth and travel to Lazio on Sunday, with Roma a further point behind in fifth before their game at Genoa.

The battle for Champions League football remains tight with just three matches left this season for Inter.

Champion Juventus are assured of a berth with a 19-point lead on second-placed Napoli, who host Cagliari on Sunday, and are also positioned for top-tier European football next season.

Inter are seven points behind Napoli, who they meet in two weeks' time in Naples, with their other two games against relegated Chievo and struggling Empoli.

Spalletti's side have now been held to three draws in a row after 1-1 stalemates against both Roma and Juventus.

In Udine, Inter strike ace Mauro Icardi started on the bench with fellow Argentine Lautaro Martinz up front alongside Radja Nainggolan and Ivan Perisic.

But Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso did well to deny the visitors, clearing a long range Nainggolan effort after 14 minutes and Martinez just after the break.

Icardi came on after an hour with Spalletti also throwing in Antonio Candreva and Keita Balde Diao for the final fifteen minutes to no avail.

Musso held a close range Keita effort three minutes from time to earn a precious point as the north-eastern team sit five points above the relegation zone.

"I sent on three attacking players to finish the game and there was nothing more I could have done," said Spalletti.

"I expected more for them considering that the game was a little slower, with tired legs, and we did have the chances to score."

For Udinese coach Igor Tudor it was "an important point" two months after his return, having also saved the club from relegation last season.

Torino are still in the running for a first-ever Champions League qualification as they sit sixth, two points off fourth place after their 1-1 derby draw against Juventus on Friday.

Although Juventus have nothing left to play for they will have a role in who qualifies for next seasons Champions League as they play Roma and Atalanta in their next two games.

SPAL secured their top flight survival with a 4-0 hammering of Chievo.

Brazilian Dias Felipe scored in either half with Sergio Floccari and Jasmin Kurtic also on target after the break as SPAL moved up to tenth after their sixth win in eight games.