Cagliari come back twice to claim vital point at Serie A leaders Inter Milan

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Cagliari come back twice to claim vital point at Serie A leaders Inter Milan

Nicolas Viola (R) celebrates with Gianluca Lapadula after scoring Cagliari's second goal
Nicolas Viola (R) celebrates with Gianluca Lapadula after scoring Cagliari's second goalAFP
It is ‘as you were’ at the top of the Serie A standings as Inter Milan were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Cagliari, remaining 14 points clear of rivals AC Milan with six matches to play.

Buoyed by the Rossoneri dropping points at Sassuolo earlier in the day, Inter set out to put the Sardinians under pressure from the get-go, though they were denied a spectacular goal inside five minutes after a corner was cleared to Nicolo Barella on the edge of the area. The midfielder caught the ball sweetly on the volley, but Simone Scuffet got down well to save.

Though the hosts survived a scare when Zito Luvumbo’s curling effort went narrowly wide, it came as little surprise when the Nerazzurri broke the deadlock in the 12th minute. Matteo Darmian threaded a pass to Alexis Sanchez, who got to the by-line, and cut the ball back for Marcus Thuram to apply a simple finish.

Forced to sit back for much of the first half, Cagliari were effective in building quick counterattacks when in possession, but neither Luvumbo nor Eldor Shomurodov could apply the finishing touches. It appeared the visitors had been punished when Barella sent a delightful header looping over Scuffet and into the net, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Key match stats
Key match statsOpta by StatsPerform

The tireless Scuffet had to be on high alert after the break - first tested by a Federico Dimarco volley before keeping out a rasping 30-yard Hakan Calhanoglu free-kick and seeing Sanchez fire goalwards from the resulting corner.

Those saves proved vital, as Cagliari went straight down the other end and grabbed an unexpected equaliser. A long ball forward was knocked down by Luvumbo to Shomurodov on the edge of the area, and the Uzbek took it in his stride and powered his strike past Yann Sommer.

However, hopes of an upset did not last long - Barella sent a cross into the box which Dimarco met with his head, only for the ball to strike the outstretched arm of Yerry Mina.

Referee Francesco Fourneau awarded the penalty, and though Scuffet went the right way, he could not keep out Calhanoglu’s well-placed spot-kick.

Calhanoglu scored from the spot to take the lead back for Inter
Calhanoglu scored from the spot to take the lead back for InterAFP

But Claudio Ranieri’s men were not done there, as inside the last 10 minutes, a header into the hosts’ box hit Gianluca Lapadula on the shoulder and fell kindly to Nicolas Viola, who pounced to score Cagliari’s second equaliser.

The Isolani could have given Ranieri just an eighth win in 34 attempts over Inter in the 95th minute had Viola sent his header either side of Sommer.

Despite the draw, Inter can still wrap up the title against their rivals in the Milan Derby next Monday, while Cagliari’s form now reads just one loss in eight as they keep breathing space between themselves and the drop zone.

Full Serie A standings
Full Serie A standingsFlashscore

Flashscore Man of the Match: Zito Luvumbo (Cagliari)

See all the match stats here.

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