Inter twice fought back from Cagliari goals, but were only able to snatch a 2-2 draw after Mauricio Pinilla’s bitter red card.
This game was played in Trieste, as the restructuring work on the Stadio Sant’Elia continues to drag on, so the club considered it best to play their ‘home’ fixtures elsewhere.
The Nerazzurri won on their debut under new Coach Stramaccioni, albeit squeezing past Genoa in a crazy 5-4 thriller, but here had to do without Douglas Maicon, Wesley Sneijder, Ricky Alvarez and Luc Castaignos. They were joined by banned duo Lucio and Julio Cesar. Cagliari missed Daniele Dessena, Rui Sampaio and Sebastian Eriksson, while goalkeeper Michael Agazzi was not 100 per cent fit.
In the opening minute Agazzi turned a Mauro Zarate strike round the base of the near post, but it was Cagliari who broke the deadlock.
Defender Davide Astori managed to get a stunning volley on target from six yards despite Andrea Ranocchia being wrapped around him as the corner came in. The strike went into the near top corner – a remarkable finish for a centre-back.
Within 60 seconds it was 1-1, as Diego Milito sprung the offside trap from a Mauro Zarate chipped pass, spun round and beat Agazzi into the far bottom corner of the net.
Mauricio Pinilla was booked for a scuffle with Dejan Stankovic, while a looping Esteban Cambiasso header was acrobatically palmed out from under the bar.
Walter Samuel’s header into the ground from a corner bounced over the bar with Agazzi scrambling across. Luca Castellazzi got down to parry a fierce Radja Nainggolan blockbuster from distance after squirming between Cambiasso and Stankovic.
A Stankovic counter-attack was deflected out for a corner, but Cagliari restored their lead with Pinilla. The Inter defence went AWOL as Pinilla was totally unmarked at the back post to get his head on to a Daniele Conti cross and steer it past a wrong-footed Castellazzi.
However, Pinilla took his celebrations a little far and climbed up the fence to go face-to-face with the travelling fans. He had already been booked and, despite not taking his shirt off, Pinilla received a second yellow card.
Inter took full advantage and equalised moments later. Milito flicked on a Diego Forlan cross that landed at Cambiasso’s feet and the midfielder was able to have the wherewithall to prod it past the goalkeeper from six yards.
Zarate curled a right-foot effort wide of the target from a promising position and Castellazzi parried a Conti free header, but only after the whistle had already gone for a shove in the box.
Another sensational Zarate curler from the edge of the box was going under the bar before a desperate flying Agazzi save. Victor Ibarbo dribbled past three Inter players at the by-line until he finally ran out of room.
Sent off: Pinilla 61 (C)