ROME (AFP) - Champions Inter Milan were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw away to Bologna in their opening match of the 2010/11 Serie A season on Monday.
In a game delayed due to Inter's European Supercup commitments in Monaco on Friday, the nerazzurri took 45 minutes to wake up and then despite bombarding Bologna's goal in the second period, they could find no way through.
If playing last season's treble winners wasn't tough enough already, Bologna's preparations were thrown into disarray on the eve of the match when president Sergio Porcedda sacked coach Franco Colomba and temporarily replaced him with youth team boss Paolo Magnani.
But the hosts showed remarkable resilience, not least from goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, who made a number of crucial saves, including one with his head.
Although Inter changed coaches in the summer -- Rafael Benitez replacing the Real Madrid-bound Jose Mourinho -- the starting XI in a 4-4-3 formation came straight from the Portuguese's mould.
However, Inter failed to sparkle and only reached something resembling their own high standards after the interval.
Benitez paid tribute to Viviano's performance but lamented his team's lack of freshness.
"He did very well with his head, with his hands, with everything," joked Benitez.
"In the beginning we had control, we did well but then they had some chances on the counter-attack, but in the second half we did everything we'd spoken about beforehand.
"We're lacking physical condition and then (Bologna) worked well in defence, they were organised and it wasn't easy to find space, but I'm happy with the reaction of my team in the second half.
"We hope to do better in future, we're at the beginning and everyone needs to understand that we must have more of the ball.
"We had some chances, we showed that even away we wanted to win. We had control, we did everything we could but we lacked freshness."
Magnani, who will not be in charge of Bologna's next game, said the next coach will inherit a team in good shape.
"We did well in the first half, physically and with our positioning, we did everything we'd talked about perfectly," he said.
"In the second half we struggled, they were winning the one-on-one battles.
"We've got all the credentials to do well, the president has tried to bring in youth to the squad, I think we have a great chance to have a good season."
Inter had a scare on 14 minutes as Marco Di Vaio played a crossfield ball over the top that both centre-back Lucio and goalkeeper Julio Cesar went for.
Lucio got in a weak clearance that went back across goal and left Julio Cesar stranded, but with an empty net to aim at Henry Gimenez lofted his shot hopelessly over the bar.
Inter were creating little of note with Esteban Cambiasso volleying over and Kenya international McDonald Mariga dragging a shot from the right well wide of the far post.
Bologna again threatened on 41 minutes as Di Vaio crossed for Gimenez but the 24-year-old Uruguayan took an age to bring the ball down and then fired over.
Late on in the half Wesley Sneijder dipped a free-kick just over the bar but Inter had failed to impose themselves on the first period.
After the break the champions started to turn the screw as Goran Pandev headed a Diego Milito cross straight at Viviano who then plunged to his left to keep out a rasping Sneijder drive.
On 73 minutes Viviano made a stunning one-handed save to keep out a Sneijder free-kick and then moments later the stopper saved Bologna again.
Substitute Coutinho crossed to Samuel Eto'o who came flying in to volley goalwards from two yards out but the ball cannoned off the unwitting Viviano's head, onto the bar and away to safety.
Despite being given a remarkable six minutes of stoppage time to try to find a winner, Inter could find no way through.
Their bitter city rivals AC Milan head the table after their 4-0 thumping of newly-promoted Lecce on Sunday.
|9||M. Di Vaio|
|Coach: P. Magnani|
for A. Ekdal 62'
for H. Giménez 68'
for G. Garics 90'
|Franjic targets more A-League glory with City|
|Beto undaunted by Super Cup clash against Barca|
|Advocaat upbeat despite another Sunderland flop|
|McClaren praises Newcastle recruit Mitrovic|
|Payet will improve West Ham - Bilic|
|Pulis confirms interest in Lambert|
|Deila expects tough test in Baku|
|Drogba mobbed by Montreal Impact fans|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Ajax spurn two-goal lead at 10-man Rapid|
|Sunderland´s struggles continue as Doncaster cruise to win|
|Mahrez and Nugent on target in Leicester win|
|Mitrovic tastes debut defeat for Newcastle|
|Celtic 1 Qarabag 0: Boyata snatches crucial win|
|Jablonec 0 Copenhagen 1: Verbic cracker gives Danes the edge|
|Norwich sign Wisdom on loan from Liverpool|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Koeman plays down importance of Vitesse links|
|Schneiderlin keen to learn from experienced duo|
|Mandzukic´s maiden Juventus goal seals win in Poland|
|Fofana completes Bastia loan|
|Deila delighted that Gordon pledges future to Celtic|
|Grenier ruled out for four months|
|Rooney: United squad ready for title challenge|
|Messi and Neymar available for start of season|
|Szczesny seals Roma switch|
|Benitez cools Mourinho war of words|
|Filipe Luis vows to win back Atletico fans|
|Besiktas in negotiations over Gomez switch|
|Kishna seals Lazio switch|
|Diaby completes Marseille move|
|Platini is bad for FIFA - Prince Ali|
|Bilic keen to make further additions|
|Brady makes Norwich move|
|Southampton complete Caulker loan|
|Rummenigge feels Muller ´will never leave´ Bayern|
|Platini to stand in FIFA presidential election|
|Howedes to remain Schalke skipper|
|Albion sign Hull defender Chester|
|Lucescu defends Fred selection amid doping allegations|
|Fabregas still in love with Arsenal|
|Luis Enrique ´happy´ with Barca´s US trip|
|Mourinho optimistic over Cahill and Costa|
|River owe Tigres´ Esqueda - Mercado|
|Van Gaal expecting big season from Shaw|
|Begovic keen to challenge Courtois|
|Mourinho launches attack on Benitez|
|CONMEBOL ´knocked on a lot of doors´ to keep half-spot - president|
|America 0 Benfica 0 (3-4 on penalties): Primeira Liga champions finally win|
|Napoli striker Higuain ´untouchable´ - Gabbiadini|
|Arsenal´s friendly form will boost confidence - Wenger|
|Nagatomo-Melo swap possible, says agent|
|Chelsea 2 Barcelona 2 (4-2 on penalties): Courtois stars for Premier League champions|
|Eriksen calls for ruthless Spurs|
|Pulis praises Berahino attitude|
|Alderweireld confident of top-four finish|
|Villa ready for tough Spurs clash|
|West Ham edge win on Carrow Road anniversary|
|Kozak scores twice as Villa draw at Wolves|
|Stanislas brace leads Bournemouth past Yeovil|
|Watford slip to friendly defeat at Cardiff|
|Lukaku injury sours Everton win at Dundee|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Fenerbahce draw blank as Monaco impress|
|West Brom earn friendly win over Walsall|
|Vardy at the double as Leicester beat Burton|
|Atletico impress in win over Oviedo|
|Herrera sacked by Mexico after ´punch´|
|Gerrard, Keane and Bradley pull out of MLS All-Star squad|
|Marseille reach Diaby agreement|
|Sammer thrilled with Vidal´s winning mentality|
|Platini expected to launch FIFA presidency bid|
|Romanov sacked me over Barca snub - Korobochka|
|Villa complete Crespo capture|
|Wolfsberger v Borussia Dortmund: Bender praises ´fun but exhausting´ training|
|Okaka swaps Sampdoria for Anderlecht|
|Southampton v Vitesse: Fonte excited for ´dream´ sojourn into Europe|
|Bournemouth agree King compensation|
|West Ham v Astra: Kouyate confident West Ham can progress|
|Vidal completes Bayern switch, signs four-year deal|
|Fabregas calls for Champions League improvement|
|BREAKING NEWS: Filipe Luis completes Atletico return|
|Bayern to present Vidal|
|Wenger unfazed by Mourinho´s spending jibe|
|Pellegrini: Sterling will justify price tag|
|Cavani hit with two-match Uruguay ban|
|Bonucci to remain at Juve until 2020|
|No bids for Berahino - West Brom|
|Putin: Blatter deserves a Nobel prize|
|Howe: Swansea a benchmark for Bournemouth|
|New Parma to play in Serie D|
|Mata vows to hit the goal trail at United|
|Drogba ´perfect fit´ for Montreal|
|Berahino ´not yet´ ready for Tottenham - Irvine|
|Romero lauds caring Van Gaal|
|Jese flying at Real under Rafa|
|Sampdoria unwilling to pay €10m for Balotelli|
|Mourinho talks up Arsenal title chances|
|Hull sign Ryan Taylor, Sam Clucas|
|Kane, Pochettino hail MLS All-Star test|
|Di Santo sorry for swift Werder departure|