Inter Milan were forced to settle for second place in Champions League Group D after a 0-0 draw with leaders Real Sociedad at San Siro.
Last year’s runners-up needed a win to clinch a place among the top seeds heading into the knockout stage but could not break down their impressive Spanish opponents.
A second draw between the sides in the group stage left them locked together with 12 points, but La Real – who conceded just twice in their six matches – topped the pool on goal difference.
— Real Sociedad (@RealSociedadEN) December 12, 2023
The draw did mean both teams kept up their impressive recent runs, with Inter having now gone 14 games without defeat.
Real Sociedad are now unbeaten in eight and have still only lost to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in all competitions this season.
And it was the visitors who dominated possession early on but, other than a couple of promising runs from Take Kubo, they failed to seriously test the visiting defence.
Inter were happy to hit on the break and they came closest to scoring in a first half of few chances.
The lively Marcus Thuram caused problems, and his surging run created an opening for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but his goalbound effort was brilliantly cleared by Sociedad defender Hamari Traore.
Federico Dimarco then forced a save out of visiting goalkeeper Alex Remiro just before the interval.
Davide Frattesi fired over 10 minutes into the second half after La Real did not deal with a long throw, before Juan Cuadrado drove narrowly wide.
Simone Inzaghi brought on top-scorer Lautaro Martinez, midfielder Nicolo Barella and Marko Arnautovic with 25 minutes to go as Inter chased a winner which would have clinched top spot.
But they were forced into some defending five minutes later, with former Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian blocking an effort from Arsen Zakharyan before Inter goalkeeper Yann Sommer smothered Mikel Oyarzabal’s shot.
Real Sociedad thought they had a penalty with 15 minutes left when Kubo went down in the area but a VAR review led to referee Sandro Scharer overturning his decision.
Sommer had to save from Oyarzabal again to keep Inter’s hopes alive.
Inter poured forward as they looked for a late winner and they created a stoppage-time chance for Martinez. But the Argentina World Cup winner opted to go for goal himself from a tight angle instead of looking for a team-mate and and he could only lash his shot high over the crossbar.