Genoa completed an extraordinary comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in under 20 minutes, with Mohamed Fares bagging a brace of headers on his debut.
The Grifone had lost both games so far, so started new buy Nikola Maksimovic, but Felipe Caicedo, Fares and Johan Vasquez weren’t ready yet. Diego Godin and Kevin Strootman were carrying knocks for the hosts, although Alessio Cragno returned in goal.
Joao Pedro had the ball in the net early doors, but had wandered offside before going around the goalkeeper.
Keita Balde Diao made an immediate impact on his Cagliari debut, bundled over by Stefano Sabelli for a penalty, which Joao Pedro converted.
The hosts doubled their lead with a powerful Luca Ceppitelli header, leaping above the crowd to meet Razvan Marin’s corner.
However, that lasted only three minutes until an Andrea Cambiaso ball over the top found Mattia Destro for a header, taking advantage of slack defending from Martin Caceres.
There were similar problems for the equaliser, another free header for debutant Mohamed Fares on a corner, allowing Genoa to claw it back.
They almost turned it around completely, ex-Lazio player Fares turning another header over the bar. It was a warning shot, because another Fares header did go in from yet another wonderful Cambiaso cross, going from 0-2 to 3-2 in under 20 minutes.
Yayah Kallon saw his counter-attack skim the woodwork too, while Marin blasted just over the bar and in stoppages Joao Pedro failed to make the most of a rare Cambiaso error, dinking his finish inches off target as Salvatore Sirigu came tearing out.
Cagliari 2-3 Genoa
Joao Pedro pen 16 (C), Ceppitelli 56 (C), Destro 59 (G), Fares 69, 78 (G)