Milan: Holders Napoli and Atalanta battled out a goalless draw on Wednesday in their Italian Cup semi-final, first leg clash with all to play for on the return trip to Bergamo next week.
Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina proved decisive on the night pulling off key saves as Atalanta came closest to breaking the deadlock in the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are bidding to win only the second major trophy in their history and first since the 1963 Italian Cup.
“We had the best chances against a strong team,” said Gasperini. “We did well, played our game without major problems.”
Lorenzo Insigne had a couple of early chances for the hosts, testing Pierluigi Gollini in the Atalanta goal.
But it was the visitors, powered by Colombian pair Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata, who threatened to score.
Ospina denied fellow Colombian Muriel twice and Matteo Pessina from close range in the first half, with Rafael Toloi sending wide after half an hour.
After the break Ospina again thwarted Muriel with the keeper receiving treatment on his knee after taking a knock.
In a bruising encounter Napoli midfielder Diego Demme was stretchered off after an hour after being struck full in the face by the ball with captain Insigne limping off minutes later being replaced by Piotr Zielinski.
Victor Osimehn came off the bench in place of Hirving Lozano with eight minutes to go but the Nigerian forward remains to find full fitness.
Gennaro Gattuso’s six-time Cup winners have left everything to play for in the Gewiss Stadium on 10 February.
“We played a good game defensively, but could have done something more up front,” said Gattuso, who remains without injured club record scorer Dries Mertens.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Juventus came from behind to beat Inter Milan 2-1 at the San Siro in their first leg on Tuesday.