Substitute Romelu Lukaku’s penalty kick in the 88th minute salvaged a 2-2 draw for Inter Milan at AS Roma in Serie A on Sunday.
The draw meant Inter Milan stuttered in their pursuit of leaders Juventus.
Second-placed Inter Milan, who had been gaining ground on Juve over the last 10 days, will see the result as two points lost.
They are five points behind the Turin side, who host Lazio on Monday.
After that, there are four matches each to play.
The penalty kick was given away in bizarre style by Leonardo Spinazzola when he missed his kick as he attempted to clear the ball.
It meant he made contact with Inter Milan forward Victor Moses instead.
Spinazzola had scored Roma’s first goal amid protests from Inter Milan who claimed Lautaro Martinez was fouled in the build-up.
“On the equaliser, there was a foul on Lautaro who was clipped on the heel,” said Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte.
His side however made mathematically sure of a UEFA Champions League place next season by snatching a share of the points with fifth-placed Roma.
“But I don’t blame the referees —– there was a mistake here but they don’t deserve to be attacked for it.”
Inter Milan started with Lukaku on the bench, as the Belgian international had been struggling with fitness problems recently, and also dropped playmaker Christian Eriksen.
Roma dominated the early stages but Inter Milan snatched the lead with their first real attack.
Stefan de Vrij outjumped two defenders to head home from a corner kick in the 15th minute.
The hosts levelled on the stroke of half-time when Aleksandar Kolarov dispossessed Lautaro Martinez to spark a counter-attack, and Edin Dzeko found Spinazzola who scored with an angled drive.
Replays suggested that Kolarov may have fouled Martinez but the referee stood by his original decision.
Inter Milan often struggled to play their way out of defence and Roma went ahead in the 57th minute.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan burst forward and played the ball to Dzeko but it ricocheted off a defender and Dzeko was about to shoot when Mkhitaryan took it off his toe and scored.
Inter Milan were rescued by Spinazzola’s moment of misfortune and Lukaku sent Pau Lopez the wrong way to score his 21st league goal of the season.
After that, the visitors finally found some attacking spark, but they could not force a winner.
“It was a great performance,” said Roma coach Paulo Fonseca.
“Inter Milan weren’t creating any dangerous situations, they only scored from a set-piece and another unlucky incident. But that’s football.”(Reuters/NAN)