Inter's winless start to 2014 continued on Sunday as they could only manage a 0-0 draw with rock-bottom Catania at San Siro.
The Milan-based club's first five games of the calendar year have now yielded two draws and three defeats, while a run of one Serie A win from nine has seen them slip to fifth.
Diego Milito had the hosts' best chance in the first half as he forced goalkeeper Alberto Frison into a good stop, but a lack of creativity and cutting edge meant their difficult spell rarely looked like ending on Sunday.
After the break Catania's Gonzalo Bergessio spurned two good chances as the underdogs looked to heap the misery on Inter, but their attacking threat proved as toothless as the hosts'.
Walter Mazzarri's men stepped up the pressure late on and Rolando saw his header well saved by Frison, but Catania held on for a point, although it was not enough to move them up the table, with Livorno beating Sassuolo.
Mazzarri named an unchanged side from the 1-0 defeat to Genoa, with Fredy Guarin left out altogether after expressing a desire to leave
Rolando Maran made four alterations to the Catania side beaten by Fiorentina last time out, with Francesco Lodi's return from suspension being the most notable inclusion.
After a quiet opening to the match, Inter eventually started to exert some control and in the 21st minute they went close to breaking the deadlock as Milito narrowly failed to connect with Ricky Alvarez's cross.
Milito was involved again five minutes later. The Argentine latched on to an Esteban Cambiasso pass on the edge of Catania's area and fired a low shot at goal, but Frison denied him with an excellent save down to his right.
Inter continued to dominate possession and frequently got the ball into the visitors' box, but could not create any clear-cut chances.
Mazzarri's charges found goal-scoring opportunities even harder to come by in the second half as Catania grew in confidence at the back and in attack.
The visitors almost made the perfect start to the half as Bergessio turned cleverly on the edge of the hosts’ area before striking left-footed, but his effort went agonisingly wide of Samir Handanovic's left-hand post.
The powerful Bergessio went close again in the 55th minute as he curled an attempt towards the top-right corner and out of Handanovic’s reach, but fortunately for the Inter it flew just over the crossbar.
Rolando saw his late header brilliantly saved by Frison, denying Inter three valuable points and stretching their winless run to four league matches.
|Coach: W. Mazzarri|
for Z. Kuzmanović 46'
for E. Cambiasso 61'
for Juan 81'
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