Rolando clawed back a point for Inter after Mauricio Pinilla’s penalty, but Mauro Icardi hit the bar in this San Siro stalemate.
The Nerazzurri seemed to have put their crisis behind them with back-to-back victories over Sassuolo and Fiorentina. At the same time, the Sardinians were struggling badly with five defeats in the last six rounds and a failed midweek coup that saw Diego Lopez risk the sack before assistant manager Ivo Pulga was axed instead. Inter President Erick Thohir was in the San Siro stands.
Hernanes and Hugo Campagnaro missed out for Walter Mazzarri’s men, while Cagliari had Daniele Conti suspended and Francesco Pisano sidelined. Adryan was in the trequartista role, moving Andrea Cossu to Conti’s midfield position. The last time this fixture ended in an away victory was back in 1995, but it did end 2-2 last season.
Victor Ibarbo was rushed to hospital last month with appendicitis and needed emergency surgery, but showed he has fully recovered by using his pace to cause problems for the Inter defence early on. He got Juan Jesus booked in a desperate bid to stop him after six minutes, then fired another attempt off target.
Jonathan’s poor finish wasted a good opportunity set up by Fredy Guarin, then Walter Samuel’s header was wide.
Rossettini got a decisive touch to stop a Guarin knock-down reaching Rodrigo Palacio in the six-yard box, while Matias Vecino fired wide after a rapid Cagliari counter-attack.
Cagliari took the surprise lead with one of their first real chances. Ibarbo’s shot was deflected off Samuel on to the arm of Juan Jesus and the referee considered it to be voluntary, so pointed to the spot. He avoided a second yellow card, but Mauricio Pinilla stepped up and converted the penalty.
Avramov ensured his men went into the break 1-0 up thanks to a double save on Diego Milito and the Ricky Alvarez follow-up.
Mauro Icardi was on for the second half and immediately fired over after trapping a difficult Guarin ball over the top. The young striker then set up the equaliser, as he knocked down a Yuto Nagatomo cross for Rolando to volley in from six yards.
Guarin dummied a defender only to flash his shot across the face of goal, while Cossu blasted over after a quick Ibarbo counter.
Avramov required a splendid save on 65 minutes to deny Palacio’s low volley after Guarin’s chipped pass over the top, as the goalkeeper stuck out a foot to parry at the near post.
The Sardinians lost Cossu to a muscular problem, but the Nerazzurri struggled to make much of a dent in their defence. There was a dent in Davide Astori’s face, as he required treatment for a cut and potential fractured cheekbone.
In the final minute Icardi anticipated Avramov to get his head to a cross, but it looped on to the crossbar and nobody was able to turn in the rebound thanks to some desperate Cagliari defending.
Deep into stoppages Guarin’s screamer of a free kick was fingertipped round the post by Avramov, but it proved to be the final move of the game.