Arevalo Rios thought he had given Palermo a much-needed victory, but Marco Sau scored his Serie A debut goal to earn Cagliari a last-gasp point.
Both sides were already hitting the panic button after a bad start to the season. Giuseppe Sannino was “sick of being asked when I’ll be fired” after two consecutive defeats, but ignored President Maurizio Zamparini by again benching big summer signing Paulo Dybala. It was a special game for Mauricio Pinilla, returning to face his former club after a bitter split, while Lorenzo Ariaudo replaced the not 100 per cent fit Davide Astori.
Considering the end of last season too, the Sicilians were without a win in 10. Thiago Ribeiro’s screamer from outside the box stung Samir Ujkani’s palms at the near top corner. From that set play, Pinilla was blatantly dragged back by Andrea Mantovani, but the referee, linesmen and goal official failed to spot it.
Another Thiago Ribeiro solo effort was parried, but Palermo went extremely close on 27 minutes. Fabrizio Miccoli’s free kick bizarrely swerved in mid-air to change direction once over the defensive wall, but Michael Agazzi scrambled to flick it off the line with his trailing foot! It was a remarkable instinctive save with the ball already behind him.
Perico got down the right and pulled back for Pinilla, but Steve Von Bergen perfectly timed the sliding challenge to block from 12 yards.
Cagliari lost Andrea Cossu with a left thigh problem, making way for Victor Ibarbo. Miccoli and the Palermo crowd were furious on 36 minutes when the captain was on the counter and fell under a last-ditch Perico challenge, but the referee waved play on. It wouldn’t have been a red card anyway, as Francesco Pisano was last man.
A Josip Ilicic cross for Abel Hernandez turned into a shot that skimmed the far top corner. Palermo’s tails were up after a bad start and they broke the deadlock with Arevalo Rios’ debut Serie A goal. Miccoli took on two defenders in the box, but then pulled back into space for Uruguayan 29-year-old Arevalo Rios to smash a fierce right-foot angled drive from the edge of the area. It was the Rosanero’s first goal of the season.
After the restart Ibarbo surged forward and rolled across into the six-yard box for Pinilla, who failed to get the decisive touch, and Von Bergen charged down an Ibarbo attempt.
Ilicic and Von Bergen both limped off with muscular problems. Another long-range Miccoli free kick didn’t dip at the right moment, but on 76 minutes it swerved again and this time Agazzi managed to readjust his position to flap off the line.
Palermo thought they had made it 2-0 with eight minutes left on the clock when Massimo Donati nodded in a Miccoli free kick, but the goal was ruled offside. It was a very tight decision, as there were a crowd of players in the box.
Moments later Ariaudo was also offside when flicking on a Daniele Conti free kick from six yards, though Ujkani had also performed a stunning reaction save.
Palermo thought they had got the win, but in the final minutes Cagliari struck with Marco Sau! Perico was totally unmarked to volley from seven yards, forcing Ujkani into a good save, but 23-year-old Sau was ready to nod in the rebound for his hometown club, anticipating Michele Morganella.