The former Espanyol player failed to convert the game's best chance from the penalty spot leaving the last 16 tie very much in the balance ahead of the return fixture
Neither side was willing to seize the initiative until the hosts were awarded a penalty shortly after the break in what was their best spell of the game. Jesus Datolo stepped up to take it but failed to beat Diego Cavalieri who made a fantastic save to keep the game level.
After a fairly scrappy start to the encounter with a number of niggling fouls being committed, it was the visitors who managed to work the best chances in the opening stages.
Former Inter player Rafael Sobis saw his 20-yard shot held Muriel by comfortably in the 11th minute and then just one minute later the Flu striker had a great chance to shoot from Carlinhos' cutback but he took too long to pull the trigger and could only muster a tame effort straight at the keeper.
The physical midfield battle continued and seven minutes later the Tricolor Carioca put the hosts under pressure again but Thiago Neves saw his well struck effort from range sail over the bar.
Both teams were compact in the middle of the park as neither side wanted to risk making the first move. Pablo Guinazu bossed the midfield for the hosts with a series of crunching challenges and well-timed interceptions.
The Colorado stepped their performance up a gear and shortly after the restart Jaja drilled in a free kick from 30 yards that looped up fell at the feet of Leandro Damiao. He span and sent a snapshot to the near post but Cavalieri had it covered and held the ball.
Their increased pressure paid off when Damiao was brought down by Edinho in the area and the referee pointed to the spot 12 minutes into the second half. Datolo was handed the responsibility to convert the penalty but Cavalieri turned it behind with a superb stop.
Fluzao were spurred into life and two minutes later they forged a chance of their own. Sobis glided past Nei all too easily but a strong hand from Muriel stopped his shot from nestling in the far corner.
The game soon settled back into its monotonous rhythm and it was not until the 78th minute that either side had sight of goal again. Manuel Lanzini was played in by Deco but he failed to hit the target from an acute angle with his first touch since coming on as a substitute failing.
Jo thought he had won it for the hosts in stoppage time after a lofted ball into the box fell to the ex-Manchester City striker but his attempt came back out off the post and was cleared away by the Flu defence.
A scoreless draw slightly favours the Rio de Janeiro club who will host Inter in the second leg of their last 16 tie at the Engenhao on May 10.