Fiorentina’s run of three consecutive victories came screeching to a halt with Mauricio Pinilla’s brace giving Cagliari the points in an empty stadium.
Controversy continued to surround the Is Arenas, after the game was first moved to neutral turf in Trieste and then given the go-ahead behind closed doors. The inconsistency of the stadium situation infuriated Milan, who argued the “tournament has been altered” by some teams playing here with no fans.
Borja Valero was forced to miss his first Viola game of the season, as he sat out a ban, joined by the injured Giuseppe Rossi and Michele Camporese. Nene was suspended for the Sardinians, but Luca Rossettini returned and Daniele Conti shook off his injury.
Fiorentina were looking for a fourth consecutive victory, but Mauricio Pinilla broke the deadlock. Conti knocked down a poor clearance and Pinilla let it bounce before smashing the half-volley from seven yards at the back post.
Although the game was behind closed doors, a large group of Cagliari fans celebrated from outside where a small gap between the barriers allowed them to see the pitch.
The Viola tried to fight back, as Facundo Roncaglia’s header skimmed the upright. Gonzalo Rodriguez was booked for taking down Marco Sau and will be suspended against Milan.
Fiorentina’s afternoon got worse, as Jovetic limped off as a precautionary measure to make way for Marcelo Larrondo.
Juan Cuadrado’s first touch let him down as he ran on to a Giulio Migliaccio through pass, but Cagliari struck on the counter-attack when Cuadrado blatantly tripped Sau. Pinilla stepped up and converted the resulting penalty.
Ljajic drilled wide, but the Viola seemed uninspired without midfield shining light Borja Valero. Alberto Aquilani had penalty appeals for a push in the box before half-time.
Emiliano Viviano beat away a Sau strike, then Manuel Pasqual opted to nod down for Larrondo rather than go for goal himself from a promising position. Sau and Victor Ibarbo then failed to make the most of a Roncaglia error.
Cuadrado pulled one back when he spun round on the volley to turn in a looping cross from six yards, anticipating Murru.
Viviano had his gloves stung by a Cabrera snapshot, and deep into stoppages Michael Agazzi needed a couple of desperate saves to deny a Luca Toni and the Larrondo header from the resulting corner.