Javier Pastore's goal wasn't enough to inspire a comeback for the Sicilians.
It was Palermo's first loss in six matches but despite the Isolani's goals being slightly fortuitous the home side were the more deserving of the three points, as the look to consolidate mid-table.
A slow start to the game allowed the visitors to edge the proceedings slightly and they could have had the lead following a spell of rash tackles breaking up the game early on. Massimo Maccarone, replacing Fabrizio Miccoli after the Coppa Italia win midweek, broke clear on goal but Cagliari keeper Michael Agazzi was quickly out to smother the opening.
Cagliari had the lead after 22 minutes. A lovely one-two at the edge of the box put Nene in with a clear sight of goal, but his shot came back off the post and into the path of Matri, who made no mistake. Replays did however show that Matri was well offside in the build-up, nonetheless the Isolani had the advantage.
The home side were denied the opportunity to double their lead just after the half-hour mark. Matri raced down the left wing, turned the ball back on to his right foot and placed a low cross into the box only for Sinisa Andelkovic to make a crucial tackle to stop Nene.
Palermo struggled to move the ball forward and hold it there for the likes of Javier Pastore and Josip Ilicic, who were surrounded quickly by red and blue shirts. With only one white shirt further forward, Argentine magician Pastore often had his head down and ran away from support.
Palermo rallied before half-time but couldn't conjure a response to going behind. Pastore had the best of the chances with a slightly mis-hit volley from the edge of the area falling at the feet of Agazzi.
Right after half-time a series of corners left questions about the marking of Palermo. A near-post flick from Daniele Conti was allowed to spin it's way across the goalline and it appeared that Palermo's midfielder Antonio Nocerino poked the ball into his own net with Robert Acquafresca waiting in the lunchtime shadow.
The Rosanero responded within a minute, Pastore finding too much space on the right of the defense and the playmaker drilled a smart shot in at the near post.
A frantic ten minutes in the second period ended with the Rossoblu restoring their two goal cushion, Davide Agostini who had been threatening from full-back down the left, looped over a cross which was half cleared. The ball dropped nicely for Davide Biondini, who volleyed home a well struck effort with the help of a deflection for his first of the season.
Palermo reacted by introducing Fabio Liverani for the booked Armin Bacinovic but they needed the reinforcements further forward, as Maccarone continued to be isolated and unable to make an impact.
The points from there after were only going one way, as Palermo's frustrations crept in, Acquafresca came close to adding a fourth for the hosts as the contest dwindled out.
Time and ideas ran out for Palermo who missed out on the chance to move into third in the league, leaving coach Roberto Donadoni very satisfied with his sides performance.
The victory puts Cagliari temporarily up into ninth in Serie A on 26 points, trailing Palermo in seventh by 5 points.
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