AC Milan and Inter were both forced to settle for a draw in what was a fiercely contested Derby della Madonnina at San Siro that finished 1-1.
Inter were the more dominant side in the first half and took the lead from the penalty spot as Hakan Calhanoglu netted against his former side having won the spot kick following a tangling of legs with Franck Kessie.
However, their lead would not last long as a free-kick from Sandro Tonali was met by the head of Stefan de Vrij, who inadvertently diverted the ball into the back of his own net the level the game. Another penalty was awarded before the break but this time Lautaro Martinez saw his attempt saved by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
After Napoli’s draw against Hellas Verona it means Milan are level again at the top and they keep a seven-point cushion on the Nerazzurri who stay in third.
Stefano Pioli made five changes to his starting XI from the team that drew with Porto in midweek as Simon Kjaer and Fode Ballo-Toure came into the back four, Franck Kessie took back a spot in midfield, Rade Krunic got the nod to play in the trident and Zlatan Ibrahimovic came back in up front.
There was a hugely controversial incident in the ninth minute of the game as former Milan man Hakan Calhanoglu went down in the box after a tangling of legs with Franck Kessie, and the Turkey international dusted himself down to calmly convert the penalty with a shot down the middle.
Rafael Leao had Milan’s first shot on goal as he got a yard of space to let fly with a curling attempt from the edge of the box though it was straight into the arms of Handanovic. The Portuguese winger also had the second attempt after Krunic won the ball back in midfield, and Handanovic again gathered this time with a bit more difficulty as there was more venom behind the shot from 25 yards.
After the pressure was building, the Rossoneri did equalise in the 18th minute and it came via a set piece. Sandro Tonali whipped a teasing free-kick in from the left towards the penalty spot where it looked like Fikayo Tomori had headed in an equaliser but upon replay it was a clear own-goal from Stefan de Vrij.
There was yet another spot kick awarded to Inter in the 25th minute and this time there was certainly no debate about the decision. Some bad judgement from Fode Ballo-Toure saw him chop down the pursuing Darmian, but Inter decided to change their penalty taker. Tatarusanu this time did what he couldn’t do before and saved Lautaro Martinez’s penalty after guessing the right way.
The game was completely end-to-end with neither side interested in committing bodies to defence, and Leao should have done better with his shot from the left side of the box that he again hammered straight at Handanovic before rushing the rebound and shanking it over the bar.
A matter of moments before the half-time whistle went Inter had two huge chances to go into the break leading, but spurned both. The first came when a pull-back from Bastoni fell to Barella who saw his effort cleared off the line by Ballo-Toure, and in the next attack Lautaro found space to shoot from inside the box but dragged his low shot narrowly wide of the post.
With Ballo-Toure on a yellow card after the penalty incident, Pioli chose to take him off at the break with Pierre Kalulu coming on at left-back.
Inter were certainly the brighter of the two sides to start the second half and were awarded a free-kick down their right side after a handball was given against Kalulu, though Dzeko should have done better than heading over from Calhanoglu’s cross.
The Nerazzurri continued to be the team that threatened more and Tatarusanu was relieved to see a deflected effort land on the roof of his net as Lautaro was allowed to let fly. Moments later, the Argentina was inches away from tapping in at the far post from Calhanoglu’s volley back across goal as the corner was not properly cleared.
A double change came a couple of minutes before the hour mark as Brahim Diaz came off for Alexis Saelemaekers and Rafael Leao made way for Ante Rebic.
The game then descended into somewhat of a war of attrition after the incredibly open previous 60 minutes, but Ibrahimovic will have felt he should have done better with his half volley from inside the box in the 69th minute as the Swede turned and fired a loose second ball from a corner but couldn’t bend his effort into the top corner.
Not long later a fourth sub was made as Sandro Tonali came off in place of Ismael Bennacer, and less than 30 seconds later a heroic block from Kalulu denied Vidal with two fantastic blocks as the ball found the Chilean in space in the box and it looked like he had the easy task of finishing.
Handanovic made a fantastic save do deny a thunderbolt of a low free-kick from Ibrahimovic that made its way through the wall just like the goal against Roma did, and Bennacer really should have done better less than a minute later when a knockdown from the centre-forward dropped to him in the box and he charged onto it but fired over.
A final change came with seven minutes left on the clock as Tiemoue Bakayoko came on in place of Krunic, facilitating what looked like a switch to a midfield three.
Milan spent the entirety of the last ten minutes well on top in the game and Bakayoko became the latest to try his luck with a curling attempt from the edge of the box that had Handanovic rooted yet missed by a couple of yards.
The Rossoneri were inches away from stealing all three points in the final minute of normal time as a Saelemaekers shot on the break rattled in the inside of the post and the ball fell to Kessie a few yards out who couldn’t bury the rebound.