Cagliari completed another comeback from 2-0 down to hold Sassuolo 2-2, with Domenico Berardi missing a penalty and Daniele Ragatzu’s first Serie A goal since 2011.
A big opportunity presented itself for the Sardinians to go clear in fourth place, as Roma were held by Inter on Friday. Robin Olsen continued his ban, with Alessio Cragno, Valter Birsa, Leonardo Pavoletti and Luca Ceppitelli injured.
Sassuolo were fresh from a 2-2 draw away to Juventus, so confidence was growing. Domenico Berardi returned from injury, but Gregoire Defrel, Andrea Consigli and Vlad Chiriches were still out of action. It meant 18-year-old goalkeeper Stefano Turati was picked for the second week running.
Cagliari had never won a Serie A match at the Mapei Stadium, losing two and drawing three here.
Berardi made the perfect comeback after a month out injured, as Filip Djuricic went on a powerful run through the centre from midfield, spread it to the right for Berardi, whose finish took a slight deflection to ensure it went past Rafael just six minutes in.
Sassuolo threatened a second moments later, but Ciccio Caputo was offside anyway when he forced a tough Rafael save on Berardi’s assist.
The hosts continued to dominate, Manuel Locatelli blasting off target, while Giovanni Simeone curled wide only after being flagged offside.
Caputo pulled back from the by-line for Djuricic, who fired just wide from a very promising position.
Sassuolo doubled their lead with a well-worked move, as Berardi’s flick sent Jeremy Toljan down the right, he pulled back for Djuricic to complete his run with a finish off the inside of his left boot from 12 yards.
Cagliari got back into it after the restart, as Turati mistimed the rush off his line after Federico Peluso’s clearance and Joao Pedro was able to turn in the header.
It was wide open and Sassuolo were awarded a controversial penalty, as from one angle it looked as if Charalampos Lykogiannis charged down the cross with his armpit, from another with his arm. VAR did not intervene, but Berardi solved the controversy anyway by blasting the penalty on to the underside of the crossbar. It was the first penalty awarded to Sassuolo this season.
Jeremie Boga had the ball in the net with a delightful lob, but he was flagged offside.
Instead, Cagliari completed yet another comeback to extend their unbeaten run to 13 rounds. It was a well-worked team move on the edge of the area and as two defenders swarmed to anticipate Joao Pedro, their clearance accidentally turned into an assist for Daniele Ragatzu to drill home at the near post. He hadn’t scored in Serie A since March 2011.
It still wasn’t over, as Junior Hamed Traore fired wide from a very promising position at the back stick.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk
Missed penalty: Berardi 61 (S)