Mariano Andujar needed a series of great saves to earn Catania a point in Cagliari after some controversy over the Is Arenas seating.
There was confusion before this game, as the night before it was announced that the Is Arenas would finally be open to all, but a few hours before kick-off the local authorities ruled the main stand is still not safe and had to remain closed. Hundreds of fans with tickets turned up amid rumours the stand would be opened anyway, leading to fears of a new defeat awarded against Cagliari after the Roma saga, but calm was restored and the stadium three-quarters full. There were some media figures and VIPs in the main stand, but it’s not clear if that is against the rules.
Cagliari lost their four-match winning streak against Fiorentina last week, but welcomed back Daniele Conti and Radja Nainggolan from suspension. The Elefantini were fresh from hammering Lazio 4-0, but Gonzalo Bergessio failed a fitness test. Marco Biagianti was chosen ahead of Sergio Almiron in midfield.
Conti was just back from a ban and received a yellow card after 12 minutes for a crunching studs-up tackle on 21-year-old Souleymane Doukara. The visitors were more aggressive in the opening stages, as Doukara’s pull-back went past everyone and Giovanni Marchese drilled wide.
Marco Sau got in good positions for Cagliari, but either scuffed his finish into Mariano Andujar’s arms or saw the shot deflected. Andrea Cossu robbed Nicola Legrottaglie and burst down the left, but his ball across the face of goal was inches past Sau sliding in under pressure.
An Alejandro Gomez cross-shot sailed just over the bar, then Pablo Barrientos flicked on for Doukara who scuffed his shot.
Nene tried to shoot through a crowd of defenders when he perhaps ought to have rolled across to the unmarked Nainggolan. Daniele Deseena went close with a long-range daisy-cutter that whistled wide of the upright.
Cagliari were convinced they were about to score in the final minute of the first half. Sau surged forward and skipped over a tackle, then went round the goalkeeper, but Andujar scrambled back on his feet to parry the angled drive towards an empty net.
From the resulting corner, Sau again got a powerful header at the back post, but once more was denied by Andujar’s lightning reflexes.
Straight after the restart Nainggolan pounced on a poor clearance and his strike was deflected into the path of Sau, but the forward only scuffed the ball from eight yards as it looped into the air. From a corner, Davide Astori nodded wide of the near post.
There was danger at the other end, as Michael Agazzi completely missed a free kick and was fortunate that Nicolas Spolli didn’t get the final touch into an empty net. Moments later Agazzi fumbled a simple catch again.
Almiron did come off the bench and was promptly booked two minutes later.