The Nerazzurri failed to make the most of Juventus' goalless draw against Lazio as they were held to a draw by a determined Rossoblau side to go four points behind the leaders
Two goals from Marco Sau looked to have been enough to rule out Rodrigo Palacio’s early opener, but an unfortunate own goal in the last 10 minutes was enough to give the Nerazzurri a share of the spoils.
Inter started brightly and it was Diego Milito responsible for the first effort of the game. Just seconds after kick-off, his long-range shot was deflected for a corner, and from the set piece the Argentine subsequently shot narrowly over the bar.
Cagliari’s top-scorer Nene tried his luck at the other end with a speculative volley from an acute angle, but the Samir Handanovic was equal to the effort, pulling off an instinctive one-handed save.
The hosts responded positively and showed their attacking efficiency by taking the lead as the game entered the 10th minute. A delicious delivery from Antonio Cassano was met by the head of Rodrigo Palacio, who nodded his fifth Serie A goal of the season.
The Sardinians were denied an equaliser when Handanovic managed to get a finger-tip to Astori’s goalwards flick to keep his side ahead. The Slovenia international was again the hero just after the half-hour mark when he got behind a powerful Nene header to push the ball away from his net, a save which completed a trio of fantastic first-half stops from the former Udinese player.
The visitors were unfortunate to lose Nene to a badly-cut head towards the end of the first-half, with Mauricio Pinilla replacing the 29-year old, but they would not allow that to act as a deterrent to their ambition of levelling the match.
In fact, it was the complete opposite as a delightful diagonal cross from Andrea Cossu picked out Marco Sau, who had found space between the Inter centre-backs, to then slide the ball into the back of the net.
The opening stages of the second-half were a scrappy affair, with the persistent fouling from both sides halting fluidity, but Milito mirrored his start to the first-half with a prodded attempt towards the opposition’s net, only to be blocked by the Brazilian, Avelar.
Shortly after, a weaving run from Palacio was brought to an abrupt end when he was hacked down by Davide Astori, but Cassano could not take advantage, firing into the wall from the resulting free-kick. When the ball was returned into the box, Milito entered himself as a candidate for miss of the season when he somehow ballooned the ball over the bar from a matter of yards.
Cagliari's counterattack-mentality eventually paid off. When Cossu again delivered an early cross deep into Handanovic’s area, Pinilla was there to rattle the post with an acrobatic volley which ultimately fell to Sau, who kept his composure to knock the ball into the net for his second of the game.
A low cross from substitute Ricardo Alvarez was turned into his own net by Astori to set up a dramatic end to the clash, but Inter failed to capitalise on a crumbling Cagliari side.