Inter head coach Antonio Conte said second position in the table is “just first for losers” after the Nerazzurri dropped behind Atalanta in Serie A.
Conte’s stuttering Inter produced a toothless display as they were held to a 0-0 draw by visiting Fiorentina at San Siro on Wednesday.
Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez both hit the woodwork for Inter, who missed the chance to move above Atalanta into second place with three matches remaining.
Inter are one point adrift of high-flying Atalanta and seven behind leaders Juventus as the defending champions close in on a ninth successive Scudetto.
“Second place is meaningless in my eyes, it’s just first for losers,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia post-game.
“Some settle for that, but not me. I don’t want my players to settle for that either.”
“It was a good game, we played with the right intensity and passing moves, but were unlucky when hitting the woodwork twice,” Conte said.
“I can’t complain when the lads put in this desire and we even risked losing it at the end through our sheer desire to win. Fiorentina deserve credit for a very good defensive performance.
“When you drop points, there are always things that have gone wrong. We are trying to develop a killer instinct and I am happy if my players are disappointed at this draw, because that shows my work is bearing fruit.
“Every game is a test to prove that we are growing. I think this team hasn’t reaped what it sowed this season, aside from securing a Champions League place with several rounds to spare.”
Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez started on the bench against Fiorentina, with Conte preferring Lukaku and the in-form Sanchez up front.
Martinez struggled to make an impact following his introduction with 21 minutes remaining and Conte added: “We are talking about a 22-year-old who didn’t really play much last season.
“He has made his mark this term, but still has a journey ahead of him, a growth process that he needs to go through. Lautaro is not the complete package yet.
“He can alternative positive and negative moments, as is natural for someone of his age. The rumours around him are insulting his intelligence and trying to stir up trouble, claiming he is thinking about another club.”