AC fans had reasons to be cheerful before the derby following the announcement on Thursday of a 740 million euro takeover by the Chinese-led consortium Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux who vowed to spend lavishly to restore the club’s glory.
During Silvio Berlusconi’s 31 year stewardship of AC, teams playing dazzling football and boasting the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Franco Baresi and Paulo Maldini, won eight Serie A titles and five Champions League crowns. But there has been scant reward since the Italian title of 2011.
And AC’s fans appeared to be heading for another day of misery. Inter went in at the pause two goals to the good thanks to efforts from Antonio Candreva and Mauro Icardi.
Inter, who have been owned by the Chinese group Suning since June 2016, had further chances early in the second half to extend their lead but they paid the price for their lack of precision.
With seven minutes remaining, Inter keeper Samir Handanovic was left stranded as Alessio Romagnoli met Suso's cross at the back post to halve the deficit
If Inter’s players and faithful thought that was a late consolation, they were wrong. Seven minutes into stoppage time Zapata scuffed the ball just over the line.
"We kept on pushing till the end and maybe we were a little bit lucky, but when you consider Inter were lucky to level late in our last derby, we feel we deserved the draw," said AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella.
"Our first half hour was good, we created chances, but we weren't clinical enough. At this level you have to be clinical when you get two or three chances."
The draw left Milan sixth, two points behind Atalanta in fifth and the final Europa League qualifying place. Atalanta drew 1-1 at Roma, who are eight points behind leaders Juventus following their 2-0 victory at Pescara.
Inter remain seventh, two points behind their city rivals. Inter coach Stefano Pioli rued his side’s profligacy. "We didn't win because we didn't wrap up the game. We had chances to score the third goal, and didn't take them. I think with a little bit more concentration we would have had the three points."