Udine, May 4: Inter's Champions League qualification hopes were dealt a blow as they were held to a third consecutive Serie A draw in a goalless clash at Udinese, who picked up a vital point in their battle against relegation.
Luciano Spalletti's men dominated possession but were restricted to speculative efforts on goal by an Udinese rearguard fighting tooth and nail for survival.
The introduction of Mauro Icardi inside the final half an hour failed to inspire Inter, whose lead over fourth-placed Atalanta could be cut to one point on Sunday (May 5).
The result left Udinese five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of Empoli's clash with Fiorentina, despite having failed to win any of their last five league matches.
Radja Nainggolan scored in Inter's 1-1 draw with Juventus last time out and his dipping drive drew a good save from Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso diving to his right early on.
Danilo D'Ambrosio was lucky to escape with only a booking after a rash challenge on Rolando Mandragora and the Inter full-back fired narrowly wide after 23 minutes with a close-range header.
Pinned back for much of the first half, Udinese countered when Kevin Lasagna's run tore Inter open but Mandragora could only fire straight at Samir Handanovic after his captain played him in.
Ivan Perisic headed over the crossbar early in the second half as the home side defended in numbers, anticipating an onslaught.
Musso used his leg to deny Stefan de Vrij after Nainggolan's flick played the defender in and Inter's last clear-cut chance fell to Keita, who slid in to meet a looping ball into the box but was denied by the ever-alert Udinese goalkeeper.
What does it mean? Inter lack a cutting edge
This was a third winnable game in as many weeks for Inter, who simply do not possess the attacking threat to set themselves apart from the chasing pack and they mustered just one shot on target in the first half.
Lasagna puts it on a plate
Udinese's best chance of the game came when captain Lasagna led by example, slicing through the layers of Inter's rearguard and dishing up a golden chance for Mandragora, who should have done better.
At this stage of the season Inter cannot afford to be carrying players but Lautaro Martinez offered little by way of goal threat for the second game running.
Inter entertain Chievo in a must-win game for Spalletti's men, while Udinese face a relegation dogfight at Frosinone.