Inter were pegged back to a draw by Cagliari after Radja Nainggolan’s effort took a crucial deflection.
The Nerazzurri aimed to continue their fine form, but were forced to rotate the squad, as they only beat Fiorentina 2-1 on Thursday evening. Javier Zanetti and Cristian Chivu were still sidelined, while Cagliari were without Andrea Cossu, Albin Ekdal and Francesco Pisano.
Once again, this was played at the Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste because the reconstruction work at the Sant’Elia has not been completed.
After 100 seconds Michael Agazzi fingertipped a Yuto Nagatomo looping effort out from under the crossbar. He then flew on a deflected Fredy Guarin strike that was heading in the same direction.
Agazzi had his palms stung again by Guarin in a move sparked at the by-line by Ishak Belfodil, then Belfodil turned a header straight at the goalkeeper from a couple of yards.
Ricky Alvarez curled just over the bar with the aid of a deflection, but Cagliari also threatened with a Mauricio Pinilla glancing header and Victor Ibarbo counter-attack.
Mauro Icardi replaced Belfodil for the second half and Alvaro Pereira had the ball in the back of the net, but play had already been stopped for a Belfodil foul.
Ibraimi volleyed over the bar from a very promising position after a rare Esteban Cambiasso error.
Inter finally broke the deadlock with 15 minutes to go, as Nagatomo sprung the offside trap down the right and crossed for Icardi’s header at the back post.
Cagliari drew level with a stroke of luck, as a deflection off Rolando took Radja Nainggolan’s snapshot past a helpless Handanovic.
Rodrigo Palacio’s acrobatic flicks created space in the box only for him to turn over the bar, then deep into stoppages a series of shots from Cambiasso and Diego Milito were charged down in the box.