The Derby delle Isole gave Davide Ballardini his first Cagliari win, silencing Catania with a Victor Ibarbo stunner.
The Elefantini had won five of their previous 10 Serie A meetings and drawn twice, but missed Mariano Izco and David Suazo. Cagliari were still looking for their first win under new Coach Davide Ballardini, who was without Nene, Davide Astori, Moustapha El Kabir, Sebastian Eriksson and the suspended Radja Nainggolan, but adjusted to a 3-5-2 that mirrored Catania’s tactics.
Mariano Andujar caught a long-range Victor Ibarbo effort, then had Albin Ekdal’s flick and volley under control at the second attempt.
Catania had most of the ball, but struggled to create chances and were often caught out on the counter-attack. They also lost Marco Biagianti to an injury after just half-an-hour.
Moments later, Francesco Lodi had an excellent scoring opportunity, as Gomez held off pressure to set up the midfielder’s left-foot strike that skimmed the bar.
At the other end, Ibarbo wasted a glorious chance created for him by Andrea Cossu’s through ball, firing straight at goalkeeper Andujar.
Both Coaches made changes in the second half to adjust their tactics. Nicolas Spolli’s header was too weak from a Lodi corner, then Davide Biondini risked an own goal with a shinned clearance.
The deadlock was finally broken with a magnificent strike from Victor Ibarbo to put Cagliari in front. He burst past Nicola Legrottaglie to reach the by-line, dummied Spolli by pretending to go wide and instead turning into the box, then dribbled round Andujar to deposit into an empty net.
Maxi Lopez came off the bench and within 120 seconds was sprinting on goal when he appeared to be brought down by Michele Canini just outside the box, but the referee waved play on.
Gonzalo Bergessio could’ve equalised, but hit his left-foot volley just wide from the Lopez assist, then Ibarbo again tore the Catania defence apart to set up Thiago Ribeiro’s strike well saved by Andujar.
At the 89th minute, Agostini almost made it 2-0 for Cagliari, but his cross-shot swerved past Andujar to ricochet off the crossbar, then the upright!
Maxi Lopez thought he had equalised in stoppages when he chested down the ball and volleyed on the turn, but Michael Agazzi denied him with a spectacular save.