Serie A: Nerazzurri's top-four ambitions suffer a setback

Ivan Perisic missed three excellent opportunities as Inter stumbled to an insipid goalless draw against a spirited Atalanta side.

Inter's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League suffered a blow after being held to a disappointing 0-0 draw by Atalanta.

With Lazio and Roma playing each other on Sunday, the game in Bergamo gave Luciano Spalletti's side the opportunity to leapfrog both of their rivals into third.

As it is a share of the spoils from Saturday's underwhelming clash moves them up to fourth, level on 60 points with the sides from the capital after a third Serie A game without a win. 

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It could have been a very different story had Ivan Perisic taken any one of the three clear-cut openings afforded to him, the Croatian showing an uncharacteristic lack of composure in front of goal. 

Until that point Atalanta had dominated the game, with Musa Barrow causing trouble for the visiting defence with his pace and movement.

Inter's attention will now turn to Cagliari on Tuesday as they look to get their Champions League qualification bid back on track with six matches to go, having failed to score in their past three outings. 

Atalanta started with a spring in their step and should have taken the lead after just five minutes.

Bryan Cristante's incisive pass found Alejandro Gomez inside the penalty area, but with only Samir Handanovic to beat the Argentinian instead clipped agonisingly past the right-hand post.

On-loan Barcelona midfielder Rafinha then crashed a shot wide for the visitors before Atalanta carved out a brace of quick-fire chances.

First, Barrow was denied by Handanovic at his near post and then the Slovenian again had to be sharp to keep out Remo Freuler's effort after a swashbuckling run.

The lively Barrow sent a first-time strike into the side netting before seeing a header destined for the bottom corner superbly clawed away by the over-worked Handanovic.

Inter had offered scarcely anything in attack, but Perisic squandered two golden opportunities to hand them the lead shortly before the interval.

The 29-year-old's first effort – a powerful drive from just inside the area – was pushed over by Etrit Berisha and then soon afterwards he rolled a low shot inches wide of the far post after being played in down the right by Roberto Gagliardini.

Andrea Masiello saw a goal-bound half-volley deflected wide of Handanovic's goal shortly after the restart, but Atalanta started to find fewer pockets of space in which to operate around the Inter area. 

Davide Santon flashed a long-range strike wide just after the hour, while Rafinha blazed unceremoniously over after being teed up inside the area by Mauro Icardi. 

Berisha repelled by a forceful free-kick from substitute Eder before Perisic's forgettable night continued when he powered a header wide from around 10 yards. 

Gagliardini fizzed wide late on as Inter ultimately had to settle for a point in their bid to qualify for Europe's elite competition for the first time since the 2011-12 season.