Mattia Destro’s hat-trick gave Roma their first Sardinian success since 1995 and piled pressure on Juventus.
The Giallorossi had the chance to close the gap on leaders Juventus to five points, at least temporarily, but hadn’t won on Sardinian soil for 19 years. Last season this fixture wasn’t played, as Roma were awarded a 3-0 result after Massimo Cellino called fans to attend a game behind closed doors, leading authorities to cancel amid security fears.
Francesco Totti was rested with Kevin Strootman and Federico Balzaretti injured, while Cagliari missed Matias Vecino, Adryan and the suspended Luca Rossettini. It was a very special game for Radja Nainggolan, who returned to face his beloved former club. He still carries the city in his heart, as his shin-pads are painted with the Quattro Mori symbol.
Mauricio Pinilla had the first scoring opportunity, but couldn’t keep his header on target from a Daniele Dessena cross.
Nene curled a free kick across the face of goal, just past the far top corner, but Roma took the lead at the Sant’Elia.
Mattia Destro started and finished the move, as his roll across for Gervinho was intercepted, so the Ivorian put it back into the middle for his teammate to tap in from five yards.
Davide Astori was booked for holding his elbow up in a challenge with Destro, though the striker looked to have swung his arm at the defender first. Cagliari had penalty appeals for a Leandro Castan handling offence.
Destro was booked for simulation, so he, Alessandro Florenzi and Miralem Pjanic will be suspended against Atalanta next week. Daniele Conti’s free kick was deflected wide of the far stick before half-time.
Nainggolan had a shot charged down against his former teammates, but then proved decisive for Roma’s second goal.
Cagliari lost the ball in midfield and Nainggolan threaded through for Destro to spring the offside trap and fire past Vlada Avramov, completing his brace.
Morgan De Sanctis beat away a Pinilla snapshot, but the Sardinians looked discouraged and struggled to make an impact in Roma’s possession play.
In fact, Destro completed his hat-trick by springing the offside trap to tap in at the back post from a smart Florenzi ball rolled across the face of goal.
Victor Ibarbo’s header was comfortably dealt with by De Sanctis, but in the final minutes Mehdi Benatia mistimed his tackle on Pinilla for a penalty. The Chilean got back up to convert successfully and give Cagliari a consolation goal.