Even without leading scorer Duvan Zapata through suspension, Atalanta earned a crucial point in their chase for an unlikely Champions League place when they held Inter Milan to a 0-0 draw at soggy San Siro on Sunday.
The draw pulled Atalanta level on 52 points with AC Milan who began the day in fourth place, the lowest of the Champions League slots. Inter are third with 57.
Atalanta have the better goal difference but stayed fifth in the official Serie A standings as Milan have the better head-to-head record, the two sides having met twice. Roma, a further point behind in sixth, are also in the hunt as are Lazio and Torino with 49 points.
It was a frustrating San Siro return for Inter forward Mauro Icardi, playing his first home game since he was stripped of the captaincy in mid-February and then said he had a knee injury.
Icardi had Inter’s best first-half chance when he found himself alone in the penalty area with only Pierluigi Gollini to beat but the goalkeeper managed to block the Argentine’s attempted chip.
Atalanta, however, were the more coherent team and missed similar chances either side of halftime when first Alejandro Gomez and then Josip Ilicic drove a low ball across the face of the goal but nobody could provide the finishing touch.
“I don’t want to talk about Icardi because I am always talking about him. There are other players as well,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.
“Icardi has to come back and exchange passes with the midfielders, as he did a bit more today, and run for the team, as all complete strikers do.”
Spalletti said he liked Inter’s overall display. “We played in a compact fashion, putting in a good performance and this is a good sign, one which makes me think that we can achieve our goal.”