Inter 0-2 Sassuolo: Nerazzurri miss chance to reach Serie A summit
Inter Milan missed the opportunity to move top of Serie A as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Sassuolo on Sunday.
Giacomo Raspadori struck after eight minutes at San Siro, with Gianluca Scamacca adding a second in the first half.
Simone Inzaghi's side dominated possession throughout but were unable to breach Alessio Dionisi's defence, leaving the Nerazzurri with just one win from their last five games across all competitions.
Leaders AC Milan were held by Salernitana on Saturday but Inter – who have played a game fewer – failed to grasp the opportunity to move a point clear at the summit.
Hamed Traore skewed the first presentable chance of the contest off target before Raspadori squirmed a finish from inside the area under Samir Handanovic to open the scoring in the eighth minute.
Hakan Calhanoglu responded by firing just wide from range, but Sassuolo doubled their lead shortly after when Scamacca headed Traore's cross home with the help of the post.
Smart Andrea Consigli stops from Milan Skriniar and Roberto Gagliardini maintained the visitors' advantage, while Domenico Berardi curled onto the crossbar in a frantic first half.
Inzaghi made two changes at the break, with substitute Edin Dzeko almost having an immediate impact.
Dzeko was thwarted from close range by a fine double stop by Consigli, before Lautaro Martinez inexplicably poked wide of an open goal.
Skriniar was then required to clear Raspadori's chip off the line and Berardi angled just wide of the far post with another sumptuous curling strike.
Inter (17) have gained the most points from trailing situations in the Italian top flight this season, and Stefan de Vrij thought he had sparked another late comeback only for his header to be ruled out by VAR for a Federico Dimarco handball.
What does it mean? Inter slip up in pursuit of Scudetto
After seeing Milan held, Inzaghi's side knew a win would take them top – a point clear of Stefano Pioli's team and four clear of third-placed Napoli.
However, after the Nerazzurri's six-game unbeaten league run against Sassuolo ended, Inter remain two behind Milan and just one clear of Luciano Spalletti's men as the race for the Scudetto continues to twist and turn.
Dionisi's side had won just one of their last eight league games, but victory on the road saw them climb above Empoli and into 11th.
Berardi may feel unfortunate he did not get on the scoresheet in the opening 45 minutes after sending a glorious left-footed strike against the crossbar from just outside the area.
However, the Sassuolo captain did assist Raspadori's opener, which made him the first player across Europe's top-five leagues to register double figures for both goals and assists this season.
Martinez has scored four goals against Sassuolo in the competition – only registering more against Cagliari – but the striker struggled here as he fired another blank.
The Argentina international missed a glorious second-half chance and has now not found the net in seven league appearances, his joint-longest run in Serie A (also seven matches in August 2019).
Inter visit Genoa on Friday, while Sassuolo host Fiorentina the next day.