Fiorentina wasted numerous chances and forced a series of saves until Khouma Babacar flicked on Federico Chiesa’s assist to conquer Cagliari.
The Viola were unbeaten in five, but four of those were stalemates, still putting them in contention for European places. Cagliari were fresh from a heart-breaking last-gasp defeat to Roma and had to do without Daniele Dessena and suspended Luca Cigarini in midfield. They therefore gave 37-year-old Andrea Cossu his first Serie A start in 1,021 days, in his third stint for the club. German Pezzella wasn’t fit to start due to a bruise in the new 3-5-2 formation.
Fiorentina had won their last two trips to Sardinia, while the previous four meetings – home and away – provided a total of 17 goals.
Giovanni Simeone’s turn and spin was too weak to trouble Alessio Cragno, but the Argentine provided a tougher test with his header from Cristiano Biraghi’s cross, forcing an acrobatic save.
Cragno also got down to parry Federico Chiesa’s angled drive at the end of a well-worked team move, but Chiesa later went on a mazy run until finding the Cagliari brick wall, infuriating ignored teammate Biraghi.
Cossu’s scorcher was deflected over and Chiesa drilled another wide of the near post.
After the restart, Romagna made a decisive block from point-blank range on Simeone after Jordan Veretout’s assist, but Milan Badelj should’ve done better with a free header wide from Cyril Thereau’s cross.
Fiorentina were so wasteful that eventually Cagliari emerged from their shells, Milenkovic clearing a Paolo Faragò cross with great difficulty.
The deadlock was finally broken by substitute Khouma Babacar, as Chiesa’s dipping cross flew over Simeone’s head and Babacar stuck out a foot to flick it beyond Cragno. That was the Senegal international’s fourth goal coming off the bench this season.
Chiesa went for goal himself again, Pisacane deflecting the finish wide.
The frustration got to Joao Pedro, who stamped on Chiesa’s foot in an off the ball incident. He was already on a yellow card and it was right next to the fourth official, so after viewing the VAR footage, the referee showed him a straight red card.
Despite going down to 10 men, Cagliari threatened an equaliser in stoppages, Davide Astori desperately cutting out a Simone Padoin cross-shot.
Sent off: Joao Pedro 94 (C)