Samuel Eto’o broke his Sampdoria duck and may well end Gianfranco Zola’s Cagliari career, as the Blucerchiati won 2-0.
Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men got back on track by beating Atalanta last week, but Zola was hanging by a thread after one point from five rounds. Djamel Mesbah, Ezequiel Munoz and Armando Rizzo missed out, but Eder returned to complete a new trident with Eto’o and Luis Muriel. The Sardinians had Daniele Conti and Joao Pedro banned, while Albin Ekdal, Godfred Donsah and Antonio Balzano were sidelined. This prompted a new 4-3-3 system with Andrea Cossu in a deeper role.
The hosts had a stronger start with Eder’s header deflected over, but Samuele Longo’s first touch let him down on a smart Paul-Jose M’Poku through ball. Eder flashed a ball across the face of goal with Muriel sliding in a second too late to tap in.
Emiliano Viviano needed a splendid one-handed reaction save to deny Longo from close range as he prodded a Danilo Avelar cross towards goal.
Cagliari also had penalty appeals for a shoulder-to-shoulder between Lorenzo De Silvestri and Avelar, but the free kick was given in favour of Samp.
The deadlock was broken after 33 minutes by De Silvestri, who got into space for a precise header from Muriel’s corner. It was his first goal in 46 games, but Cagliari complained at the ‘blocks’ that opened up space for De Silvestri’s free header.
Zeljko Brkic prevented a second by rushing off his line to smother at Pedro Obiang’s feet. Viviano had a hip problem before half-time, but was able to sort it out during the break.
Eto’o still looks rusty and scuffed wide from an Eder assist, but Cagliari were much more aggressive in the second half, albeit failing to get decent shots on target.
Instead, Obiang sprung the offside trap on Eder’s pass and fired straight at Brkic when one-on-one. The frustration got to Cagliari assistant manager Pierluigi Casiraghi, who was sent off for dissent.
Sampdoria did double their lead with Eto’o, who finally broke his duck in the Blucerchiati jersey. He chested down with back to goal, turned and let it bounce before smashing the half-volley under the bar from a tight angle. It was the ex-Inter man’s first Serie A goal since May 15 2011.
That crushed Cagliari’s hopes of a comeback and Brkic flew to fingertip an Eder rocket over the crossbar.
Viviano denied Diego Farias from close range, but as Samp went on the counter Avelar received a second yellow card and left the Sardinians with 10 men.
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Sent off: Avelar 82 (C)