ROME, December 14 – Italian league leaders Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at Atalanta on Sunday that prevented them from fully capitalising on slips-up by their main title rivals, Juventus and AC Milan.
Inter, the four-time defending champions, were looking to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat at Juventus last weekend and they took a 15th-minute lead when their 10-goal top scorer Diego Milito outfoxed three defenders to score.
Jose Mourinho’s side were made to toil in the second period following the 65th-minute dismissal of midfielder Wesley Sneijder for two bookable offences and they allowed Atalanta to snatch a point through substitute Simone Tiribocchi with nine minutes to play.
"The dismissal of Sneijder shaped the end of the match," Inter’s assistant coach Beppe Baresi told Sky Sport.
"The team was having no problems. The match was in our hands, then Sneijder got his second card. It’s a shame because we deserved to win."
Inter lead the table with 36 points from 16 games. Milan are five points back in second place after losing 2-0 at home to Palermo, while Juve trail Milan by a point after their 3-1 loss at Bari on Saturday.
Milan went into their meeting with Palermo on the back of five straight Serie A victories but they were undone by two goals early in the second half that owed much to the brilliance of Fabrizio Miccoli.
Miccoli cut in from the left flank before bending a fine finish around Dida in the 49th minute and he provided the spark for the visitors’ second goal shortly after the hour mark when he sped down the left before finding Javier Pastore, who in turn fed Mark Bresciano to slam home from close range.
"Palermo deserve to have won," said Milan coach Leonardo.
"They play a bit like us, with lots of attacking players. The game was open, but the two goals scored at the start of the second half were decisive.
"The team didn’t play badly, but coping with fatigue is never easy. Today we didn’t have the rhythm of our recent matches in our legs."
Elsewhere, Fiorentina’s recent dismal run continued with a 2-1 defeat at Chievo, while Parma kept pace with the top three by winning 2-1 at home to Bologna and under-performing Lazio won 1-0 at home to Genoa.
Roma moved to within two points of Parma after drawing 0-0 at Sampdoria in Sunday’s late match.
Juventus’s week went from bad to worse on Saturday, when they followed up their mid-week Champions League elimination at the hands of Bayern Munich by losing 3-1 at promoted Bari.
Ciro Ferrara’s team were second-best throughout and their performance was symbolised by a missed penalty in the 68th minute by misfiring summer signing Diego.