Erick Pulgar’s penalty and a Roberto Soriano strike gave Bologna a valuable victory that drags Cagliari back into the fight to avoid relegation.
This was a relegation dogfight, although the Sardinians would’ve been content with a draw to keep them relatively mid-table. Paolo Faragò and Luca Cigarini were suspended, with Ragnar Klavan, Lucas Castro and Alberto Cerri injured. Filip Bradaric therefore took the midfield reins, with Valter Birsa back on the bench after more than a month out of action. Bologna missed Simone Edera, but Andrea Poli was dropped in favour of Blerim Dzemaili after his costly error last week.
Cagliari were undefeated against Bologna in Serie A since September 2016, managing three draws and a win.
Federico Santander thought he’d scored after six minutes when at full stretch prodding at a deflected Mitchell Dijks cross, but Alessio Cragno was fortunate it hit him in the face from point-blank range.
Joao Pedro’s volley was not far over after some beautiful one-touch football, but Cragno had to rush off his line to palm the through ball off Santander’s foot, then use his body outside the box to charge down the Roberto Soriano follow-up.
Santander fell awkwardly on to his shoulder during that move and had to come off, replaced by Riccardo Orsolini.
Nicolò Barella stung Lukasz Skorupski’s gloves, while desperate Fabio Pisacane defending risked an own goal as he intercepted a Rodrigo Palacio assist with Nicola Sansone waiting to tap in.
Bologna received a penalty when Bradaric charged down an Orsolini cross with his arm and Erick Pulgar calmly rolled it into the near bottom corner, sending Cragno the wrong way. Bologna had until now been the only Serie A side without a penalty awarded to them this season.
Cagliari came so close to an equaliser six minutes later, but Joao Pedro’s towering header turned a Barella cross on to the bar.
Palacio’s deflected cross-shot skimmed the far top corner of the net from the tightest of angles with Cragno getting his fingertips to it, then Blerim Dzemaili turned just over when off balance and Danilo failed to make the most of a free header.
Tempers flared and it became a battle of the goalkeepers, as Skorupski somehow managed to use one arm to claw a Joao Pedro free header off the line from point-blank range, then at the other end Orsolini fired straight at Cragno one-on-one when sent clear from nine yards.
Bologna doubled their advantage with the two January arrivals combining. Sansone dribbled down the left and rolled across for Soriano, who took a touch to get away from a defender and fire in from five yards. It was his first goal in a Rossoblu jersey.
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