Serie A: Filippo Inzaghi still on brink as Verona peg back AC Milan to 2-2 draw
The future of AC Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi was left hanging in the balance on Saturday after Uruguayan Nico Lopez came off the bench to hit an injury-time leveller for Verona in an insipid 2-2 draw at the San Siro.
Milan looked to have done enough to claim only their third win in 11 games after an own goal by midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis gave the hosts a second-half lead after first half-goals from Luca Toni and Jeremy Menez, both from the spot.
However Inzaghi and his fallen Serie A giants were whistled and jeered off the pitch by an increasingly hostile home crowd after a second consecutive draw left them in 10th spot, 23 points behind leaders Juventus.
Champions Juventus are not in action until Monday when they host Sassuolo looking to add to their nine-point cushion on second-placed Roma, who travel to Chievo on Sunday.
Milan, meanwhile, remain light years away from challenging for the scudetto.
Inzaghi left on-loan Roma striker Mattia Destro on the bench with Giampaolo Pazzini and Alessio Cerci joining Frenchman Jeremy Menez up front, while defender Philippe Mexes made his return to the line-up following his four-match ban for violent conduct.
Verona took the lead just after the quarter hour when Toni beat Spanish `keeper Diego Lopez from the spot with a cheeky chip after Sulley Muntari had fouled Artur Ionita on the edge of the area.
Mexes tried his luck from distance only to see a dipping shot go just a foot wide of Francesco Benussi`s right-hand post as the `keeper dived to cover.
Minutes later, the Frenchman`s guile helped win a penalty as he tumbled under a challenge from Bosko Jankovic and Menez stepped up to level from the spot on 41 minutes.
Mexes was handed a four-game ban on January 27 for a string of violent incidents involving Lazio captain Stefano Mauri during a 3-1 defeat to the Biancocelesti last month.
He had not played since then but looked to have made amends only two minutes after the restart when he hit the shot which led to Tachtsidis`s own goal.
Cerci`s drive into the area was sent up into the air by Pazzini and headed on by Menez to the right of goal, where Mexes picked up his own rebound to squeeze the ball home from the tighest of angles with a late touch coming from Tachtsidis.
It was far from attractive football but Milan came close to adding a third minutes later when Cerci`s through ball found Menez in space in the area, but Benussi was out quickly to shut down the intended pass to unmarked Pazzini.
Tachtsidis almost made amends on 72 minutes when he smacked the crossbar with a dipping half-volley that bounced behind Lopez before being cleared for a corner.
Milan went on to create several opportunities but Keisuke Honda, a second-half replacement for the ineffective Cerci, notably, was out of sorts hitting his efforts wide of the target.
The hosts were made to pay in the dying seconds when Juanito Gomez bravely got his head to a ball while surrounded by Milan players to nod into the path of Lopez, who replaced Jankovic with 20 minutes to play.
The Urugayan kept his cool under pressure from Mexes to dink the ball past the onrushing Lopez to snatch a share of the points.