Mauro Vecino’s equaliser five minutes from time cancelled out Stephan El Shaarawy’s first half opener to keep Inter fourth in Serie A, three points clear of their opponents, but without a league win in six.
El Shaarawy had capitalised on an error from Davide Santon to put Roma ahead after 31 minutes, but having survived 40 minutes of a second half onslaught from their hosts, Vecino headed home with 85 minutes on the clock to deny the visitors what would have been just their second win in six.
Up against the side he left in the summer, Inter manager Luciano Spalletti made two changes from the side that drew with Fiorentina in the last game before the winter break, with Antonio Candreva and Miranda replacing Joao Mario and Andrea Ranocchia respectively.
??Roma meanwhile made two changes of their own from the defeat to Atalanta, with Radja Nainggolan and Gerson replacing Maxim Gonalons and Diego Perotti, meaning that rumoured Chelsea target Edin Dzeko continued to lead the line for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side.
After an opening fifteen minutes where both sides showed plenty of intent without any clear end product, it was Candreva who had the game’s first flash of a chance, when, under no pressure from the Roma defence, the winger curled an effort just wide of the top corner from 35 yards.
Moments later the hosts went even closer, as Joao Cancelo’s cross from the right wing found the head of Ivan Perisic at the far post. Once again, however, the resulting effort flew just wide of the post.
Icardi then had a shout for a penalty turned down at the midway point of the first half. Having turned away from Manolas and Fazio, the Argentinean then went down under the combined pressure of the two, only to see the referee wave away his appeals.
Inter continued to press and it was Perisic who had the hosts’ best chance yet just before half hour mark. After Candreva’s deep cross into the area evaded everyone in the centre, it was Perisic who picked it up on the far side, but after cutting inside of Florenzi to create space for a shot, his attempt was parried by Roma goalkeeper Alisson, and Borja Valero’s follow was straight into the hands of the Brazilian no.1.
Inter would be made to pay for those missed chances almost immediately. A long clearance forward by Alisson evaded Inter left back Davide Santon, allowing Stephan El Shaarawy to steal in and expertly lift the ball over the onrushing Handanovic to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Roma then had a penalty claim of their own turned down, as stand in captain Florenzi went down when attempting to chase a ball over the top, with replays suggesting that Joao Miranda had grabbed a handful of the Italian’s shirt.
Icardi would see a couple of half chances squandered as Inter went in search of an equaliser before the break, but with Roma’s defence holding firm, it was they who went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
After a promising start to the second half from Roma, it was Inter who came close to equalising with the first clear chance of the second period, as Perisic jinked his way to the byline, where his deflected cross had to be tipped away by Alisson.
Candreva then had his second go from distance of the evening on the hour mark, as Brozovic’s corner was cleared to the Italian, whose first time strike was on target, but straight into the hands of the diving Alisson.
Not for the first time in the match Icardi saw yet another chance go begging, rising highest to meet Cancelo’s cross, but heading some way wide, and moments later Cancelo would find himself in the referee’s book for a blatant dive inside the Roma area with Federico Fazio trailing a leg for the Portuguese to theatrically throw himself over.
Luciano Spalletti responded by bringing on Eder in the place of Candreva, and the striker almost had an instant impact, latching onto a lofted ball from Miranda but placing his shot straight at Alisson.
Icardi then took Inter even closer to an equaliser, as he turned Perisic’s deflected cross towards goal while at full stretch and from a tight angle, only for Alisson to once again prove equal to effort, tipping with the ball onto the post with little over fifteen minutes remaining, before Eder flashed another Cancelo cross just over the bar moments later.
Alisson then produced another stunning save, this time diving low to his left to once again deny Icardi as the ball fell kindly to him just ten yards out.
Finally though, Inter’s pressure would tell with five minutes to go, as substitute Brozovic’s cross expertly found Vecino, who leaped between the two Roma centre backs to thump his header past a helpless Alisson for his second league goal of the season, his first having come in the 3-1 win over Roma earlier in the season.
Both sides pressed for an winner, but with none forthcoming, two early season title hopefuls on bad runs of form were forced to settle for a point apiece which does neither any favours.