Inter missed the chance to reclaim the Serie A summit on Sunday after falling to a 2-0 home defeat to giant-killers Sassuolo which allowed AC Milan to keep top spot.
First half strikes from Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca gave Sassuolo an impressive win at the San Siro which left Inter two points behind Milan, who had opened the door for their local rivals with Saturday’s draw at bottom side Salernitana.
It was the latest triumph for Sassuolo at one of Italy’s big three after also winning at Milan and Juventus this season.
The ball is now in Napoli’s court in an exciting three-way title race as Luciano Spalletti’s side, who sit a point behind Inter in third, can move top on goal difference with a win at Cagliari on Monday evening.
Simone Inzaghi’s tired looking Inter team, who were missing midfield lynchpin Marcelo Brozovic and starting centre-back Alessandro Bastoni to suspension, could have easily found themselves three down at the break, as Domenico Berardi thumped a beautiful shot off the bar in the 38th minute.
Their current fragility was exposed in the eighth minute when after Berardi pinched the ball from Hakan Calhanoglu he fed Raspadori who hit a low shot which squirmed home past Samir Handanovic.
And Scamacca, who is hotly tipped to move to Inter alongside teammate Davide Frattesi in the summer, stunned the home fans when he drifted into the area unmarked and headed home his 10th Serie A goal of the season from Hamed Traore’s inswinging cross.
However Inter only had themselves to blame to not have made more of a game of it, as a wave of second-half pressure brought enough chances to at least escape with a draw.
Edin Dzeko was off form after coming on as a second-half substitute but it was Lautaro Martinez who left Inter fans opened-mouthed in the 72nd minute when he somehow poked wide with an open goal at his mercy.
A bad evening for Inter was rounded off when Stefan de Vrij’s powerful stoppage-time header was ruled out for a handball by Federico Dimarco in the build-up.
Fiorentina eye Champions League
Earlier Krzysztof Piatek helped Fiorentina fans forget Dusan Vlahovic by firing his new team firmly into the Champions League race with the only goal in a 1-0 win over off-form Atalanta.
Polish international Piatek netted a well-taken fifth goal in six appearances in all competitions since returning to Italy from Mainz in January to move Fiorentina up to seventh, five points behind fourth-placed Juventus.
Vincenzo Italiano’s side also have a game in hand on Juve, whose 1-1 draw with Torino on Friday had given Atalanta, missing attackers Duvan Zapata, Josip Ilicic and Luis Muriel, the chance to move up one place into fourth with a win in Florence.
However they offered very little once Ruslan Malinovskyi was denied a leveller shortly after going behind for Hans Hateboer straying marginally offside when making a run and being judged to have interfered with play.
That decision so enraged coach Gian Piero Gasperini that he was sent off and refused to speak to media afterwards, while the club posted an image of the move highlighting Malinovskyi’s onside position with the message “judge for yourself”.
Atalanta announced on Friday that a group of American investors had agreed to purchase 55 percent of La Dea, the holding company run by the Percassi family which holds 86 percent of Atalanta’s share capital.
The club did not say how much the investors led by Stephen Pagliuca – co-owner of NBA basketball team Boston Celtics and co-chairman of Bain Capital which manages around $155 billion in assets – had paid for 47.3 percent of the club.
The Percassis remain the largest single shareholders of Atalanta with 38.7 percent and the father and son team of Antonio and Luca maintain their hold on the day-to-day running of the club.