- Associated Press - Saturday, March 19, 2016

ROME (AP) - Roma kept its grip on the third Champions League qualifying place in Serie A by drawing with Inter Milan 1-1 on Saturday.

Inter badly needed to win in Rome against a team which had won eight straight league matches, but stayed five points behind with eight rounds left.

The visitors took a second-half lead through Ivan Perisic’s left-footed shot then sat back as Roma pressed for a leveler.

It finally came in the 84th minute when midfielder Radja Nainggolan seized on a miscue by teammate Edin Dzeko to score with a sweeping shot.

Inter rose to fourth, but fifth-place Fiorentina can close the gap on Roma when it plays at lowly Frosinone on Sunday.

Roma stayed third, four points behind second-place Napoli.

Earlier, Empoli and relegation-threatened Palermo drew 0-0. The point lifted Palermo provisionally two points clear of Frosinone in the third relegation place.

Inter led in the 53rd when exploiting open space on the right side of Roma’s defense to free Perisic on goal. The midfielder advanced and fired a shot across goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny diving to his left into the far corner of the goal.

Roma then dominated with substitute Dzeko at the heart of the action. His header in the 67th brought a diving save from Samir Handanovic, and video replay suggested the ball struck a hand of Inter defender Miranda on its way to goal.

Dzeko had his best chance a minute later but blazed over the bar from 10 meters (yards).

Handanovic saved with his feet from Mohamed Salah in the 81st and, from the resulting corner, Dzeko’s header was cleared off the line by Inter’s Yuto Nagatomo.

Dzeko’s hapless scuffed shot set up the leveler for midfielder Nainggolan, then in the 90th he blocked a seeming goal-bound shot by Salah.

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