Dusan Vlahovic met the Jose Callejon assist to give Fiorentina a precious victory over troubled Cagliari after Bartlomiej Dragowski saved Joao Pedro’s penalty.
It’s a fourth consecutive defeat for the Sardinians, but the first home win at the Stadio Franchi since October.
The Viola had Gaetano Castrovilli suspended and Franck Ribery injured, so Jose Callejon was given a surprise start in a more advanced role. Cagliari were in crisis, not helped by a two-game Nahitan Nandez ban, with Marko Rog, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Carboni and Paolo Faragò injured.
Dusan Vlahovic pounced on a terrible Fabio Pisacane back-pass after 11 minutes, but Alessio Cragno made himself big to narrow the angle and get his fingertips to it from point-blank range.
The referee pointed to the spot on 25 minutes, but changed his mind after viewing it on VAR, as Vlahovic had if anything kicked the defender when his foot got to the ball first.
German Pezzella had a big opportunity soon after, but his header from a corner floated across the face of goal to skim the far post and go wide.
Cragno had to be alert on a wayward Erick Pulgar cross-shot, but while Pezzella was off injured and Fiorentina down to 10, Cagliari earned a penalty.
Radja Nainggolan went on the counter and rolled across for Joao Pedro, brought down by Igor. The Brazilian went to take the spot-kick, but Bartlomiej Dragowski made the save, blocking the ball dead at the bottom corner. It was the second penalty saved by Dragowski in Serie A this season, after Milan’s Franck Kessie.
Giovanni Simeone had a good chance to score against his former club, but Lucas Martinez Quarta made a brave block from 12 yards.
Cragno got down quickly to a Martin Caceres daisy-cutter and Cristiano Biraghi fired over from a tricky angle after a well-worked passing move.
Simeone again should’ve done better when robbing the last man and drawing Dragowski out, but over-hit the lob over an empty net.
Diego Godin saw one of his trademark headers from a corner graze the crossbar to land on the roof of the net.
The game started to open up and Cragno made an unorthodox reaction save on Jack Bonaventura’s chest and half-volley at the back post.
The deadlock was finally broken in traditional Jose Callejon style, as he broke away down the right and years of the same move at Napoli mean he knows the perfect timing to put the ball across the six-yard box where Vlahovic could just slide in from six yards.
Razvan Marin had a huge chance to equalise, as his effort took a deflection that would wrong-foot most goalkeepers, but Dragowski managed to stick out a limb and parry.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk
Saved penalty: Joao Pedro 37 (C)