Mauricio Pinilla snatched a late 2-1 win on Cagliari’s return to the Sant’Elia, as 10-man Catania capitulated despite saving a penalty.
The Sardinians returned to the Sant’Elia for the first time since April 2012, though reconstruction work meant only 5,000 spectators were allowed in. Daniele Dessena and Albin Ekdal missed out, though Andrea Cossu and Daniele Conti were back. Marco Sau played after fracturing his nose last week. The Sicilians were without Nicolas Spolli, Kingsley Boateng and Sebastian Leto, while goalkeeper Mariano Andujar was tired after international duty.
However, it was Catania who took the lead just five minutes into the match. Gonzalo Bergessio was able to jump relatively undisturbed to nod in a Jaroslav Plasil corner from six yards. It was the striker’s first Serie A goal of the season.
Cagliari were continually losing possession in midfield for counter-attacks, so Michael Agazzi dealt with efforts from Bergessio and Cristiano Biraghi.
Conti took matters into his own hands and stung Alberto Frison’s gloves with a snapshot from 20 metres.
Victor Ibarbo got Cagliari back on level terms, as he gathered with his back to goal, turned Nicola Legrottaglie and flashed a shot across Frison into the far top corner from a tight angle.
Pablo Barrientos blasted not far wide from distance, but Ibarbo set up Sau on the counter and his finish was deflected inches wide.
Ibarbo again burst forward down the right and was clear on goal when tugged back slightly by Legrottaglie. The referee considered it worthy of a penalty and a red card. However, Frison became the hero for 10-man Catania by parrying both Ibarbo’s spot-kick and the headed follow-up.
Rolando Maran introduced defender Alexis Rolin for forward Lucas Castro and it seemed to work, as the Sicilians reduced their hosts to sterile possession in the second half. The Sardinians finally found space on 65 minutes when Ibarbo burst down the left, but he forced a ome-handed save from Frison at the near post.
Frison also got down to palm away a curling Conti free kick, then substitute Mauricio Pinilla hit a scissor-kick volley over from seven yards. He fell on Giuseppe Bellusci during that move and the Catania defender was forced off the field.
Pinilla should’ve done better with 10 minutes to go when volleying over an Ibarbo cross six yards in front of an open goal, as he tried to go with his stronger foot and over-stretched.
Pinilla did get the winner soon after, as his first effort was volleyed on to the post, then he tapped in the rebound. The Chilean scored right under the only area in the stadium with fans and ran up the stairs to celebrate with the tifosi.
Frison denied a second for Pinilla in the final minute, parrying his strike from another Ibarbo assist, then smothered an Ibraimi effort.
Sent off: Legrottaglie 40 (Cat)
Saved penalty: Ibarbo 41 (Cag)