Inter Milan coach Mancini raises white flag in Champions League bid

AFP , Monday 16 Mar 2015

Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini
Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini looks at the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Inter Milan, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, March 8, 2015 (Photo: AP)

Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini has described as "unrealistic" his side's chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League after a 1-1 draw with lowly Cesena.

Inter hosted the Italian league strugglers on Sunday expecting to get back to winning ways following a home defeat to Fiorentina and a hard-fought draw away to Napoli.

But despite Rodrigo Palacio levelling Gregoire Defrel's 30th minute strike for the visitors, Inter struggled to find the net before settling for a share of the spoils at an unhappy San Siro.

Mancini, who won seven trophies including three consecutive league titles on his first spell at the club, could only hold his head in his hands as Inter's hopes of Champions League football next season drifted further away.

"If we’d won we would have closed to within seven points of Napoli with 11 games still to play," said Mancini.

"But now, finishing in third place is now going to be difficult, there's no point in even talking about it. It would be unrealistic."

Inter are not the only Serie A giants stuck in a rut - city rivals AC Milan and Roma are both in action later on Monday looking to get reacquainted with victory.

Stuttering Roma, in second, host Sampdoria later on Monday looking to reduce their 14-point gap to leaders Juventus while Milan, 10th at 29 points behind Juve, face a tough trip to Fiorentina.

If Roma lose, Lazio, who are also in action, at Torino, will move up to third ahead of Napoli -- stunned 2-0 at Verona on Sunday -- at only a point adrift of second place.

A thrilling battle for the league's European places now looks on the cards, but Inter are reluctantly setting their sights on finishing fourth or fifth to secure a Europa League place.

Mancini's men host Wolfsburg in the last 16 of this season's competition on Thursday looking to overturn a 3-1 first leg defeat.

Despite Inter's difficulties, the Italian issued a rallying call to fans, and his players.

"It's understandable the fans are angry or disappointed, because we're not doing well. But we need them at the stadium on Thursday," added Mancini.

"We need a special night where we make things happen. Wolfsburg are a good team, it's no surprise they are second in the Bundesliga.

"But if we put in a great performance we can get through to the next round."

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