Milan missed the opportunity to climb above Roma and into sixth in Serie A as they were held to a goalless draw by a spirited Sampdoria at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men looked subdued and were outplayed for large periods of the first half against a resurgent Sampdoria side riding high after last weekend’s 2-1 victory over league-leaders Juventus.
Daniele Gastaldello wasted a free header on 20 minutes and Mauro Icardi spurned a one-on-one just after the hour mark as the home side failed to find a winner.
They also missed the chance to move six points clear of arch-rivals Genoa and the relegation zone, though they will be encouraged by another impressive display against a side in the Champions League.
Christian Abbiati was the busier of the two keepers in the opening exchanges and had to react to deny driven efforts from Lorenzo De Silvestri and Andrea Poli from outside the area in quick succession. Milan – whose youthful attacking trio of M’Baye Niang, Bojan Krkic and Stephen El Shaarawy had a combined age of 60 – were unable to get a foothold in the first half, with two speculative efforts from Riccardo Montolivo failing to test keeper Sergio Romero.
Samp’s best chance came on 20 minutes as Gastaldello lost his marker at a corner, but the defender headed over from just six yards out when it looked easier to score.
Spurred on by an increasingly vocal home crowd Delio Rossi’s men pressed for a goal but were unable to fashion another clear-cut chance before half-time.
Milan started the second half brightly, and Niang almost fired them in front immediately after turning and losing his man in the area – but Romero was able to push his shot wide.
From the resulting corner the ball appeared to hit the arm of Lorenzo De Silvestri but Milan’s appeals for a penalty were waved away.
The match was increasingly end-to-end and the home side very nearly scored with their very next attack, with a Poli shot deflecting off Cristian Zapata and bouncing narrowly wide of Abbiati’s far post.
Milan fashioned their best chance just after the hour mark as Bojan muscled free of his marker in the area and sent a dangerous ball across the goalmouth which was diverted goalwards by Kevin Prince Boateng - but Romero was on hand to block the ball on the line.
The visiting side very nearly scored with their next attack, with the static Zapata and Philippe Mexes allowing Icardi through on goal – but the 19-year-old fired wide of the target.
The introduction of Robinho for the ineffective El Shaarawy gave Milan a lift but they were still unable to break Sampdoria’s disciplined defence.
The tempo of the game remained high but neither side were able to fashion another chance – and tempers flared with full-time approaching as Niang escaped a red card despite appearing to catch Andrea Costa with a flailing arm.
In the closing stages it was Milan who looked more likely to score but Mexes sent a header straight into the arms of Romero with five minutes to play as both teams settled for a share of the spoils.