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February 23, 2014
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: C. Russo
• Attendance: 37893
M. Pinilla 40'
That's it from me, bye for now.
Too little too late as far as Inter are concerned. They mount a late assault on the Cagliari goal, but cannot make it count as the visitors take home a well earned point. The Nerazzurri miss a chance to close the gap on fourth placed Fiorentina, while this point eases Cagliari further away from the drop zone.
90' + 5'
Guarin flashes a late free kick in that Avramov saves, and that's it! Cagliari hold on!
90' + 4'
Yellow Card Víctor Ibarbo
90' + 4'
Guarin whips in the set piece, but it doesn't go anywhere dangerous. Rolando looked for a second to have an angle to strike the rebound, but he's closed down before he can even sort out his feet.
90' + 3'
Into the third of four added minutes here. This late surge from Inter may have come to late to change matters, but they have a dangerous free kick on the left after Nagatomo was felled.
90' + 1'
NAGATOMO AND ICARDI AGAIN! Another excellent delivery from the Japanese into the six yard area. Avramov came and missed the ball, and Icardi plants a header onto the crossbar!
That was a DANGEROUS cross from Nagatomo, who has put in a few peaches from the left flank today. It flashes in front of the six yard area, and Icardi's leap almost connects with it!
Another wasted Nerazzurri opportunity as Guarin, standing over a free kick, whips it too far away from interested parties in the box and right into the path of Avramov, who smothers comfortably again.
Yellow Card Albin Ekdal
That's a late challenge on Icardi by Ekdal, who commits the infraction right in front of both sets of benches. The referee is quickly over, and shows him a yellow card. That gives him a suspension for the next game.
Yellow Card Matías Vecino
Kovacic exchanges passes with Botta and endeavours to pick out one of three bodies camped in the box, but finds no one except the arms of Avramov, who was not put under any sort of pressure there.
Another wasted cross into the Inter box by Cagliari sees Handanovic get off his line to claim the high ball easily. It's that time of the match though, because the visitors do not have anyone really attacking the box anymore.
The substitutions have done little to freshen up either side so far. I must say that the play during the closing stages has been far more disappointing from an Inter perspective, as this is exactly the type of match a team with European ambitions should be gunning to win.
Trouble here for Cossu, who took a knock in that last play involving Guarin, and is down on the deck. He eventually gets to his feet and limps off the side of the pitch, and is promptly substituted for Perico. Inter make their final change as well, as Kuzmanovic is replaced by Botta.
The home fans getting restless, and are urging their team forward in the closing stages to try to snatch a winner. Nagatomo's cross is cleared to Guarin on the D, and he tries to slide in Icardi, but Astori gets his body in the way of the ball.
A pass from Kovacic, intended to meet the overlapping run of Nagatomo, is too far in front of the Japanese fullback, who doesn't have the legs anymore to chase after it after running up and down the flanks all game. Fatigue starting to creep on for both sets of players.
Jonathan hooks a cross out of play from a promising position as Inter struggle to match the intensity of their start to the second half. It's turned very scrappy and lethargic out on the field.
Second sub for Cagliari, and this time it's a tactical one. Nene, the 30 year old Brazilian forward, replaces the goalscorer Pinilla, who has not done much outside of keeping his nerve from the penalty spot.
The game has definitely ground to a standstill in the last few moments. Neither side looks in any hurry to snatch the initiative, and with more changes coming up, it doesn't look like it'll pick up any time soon.
Sub here for Inter, as Alvarez departs for Kovacic. The hosts have a free kick as well, and bodies pile forward as Jonathan whips it in from the right, but Avramov gets off his line to grab it out of the air.
MAGNIFICENT SAVE FROM AVRAMOV! Palacio was free in acres at the far post and Guarin finally finds him, clipping the ball over the top for his fellow South American. He lashes in what looks like a surefire goal, but the Cagliari keeper gets down at the near post and just about diverts it away!
It's been a strong spell of possession this from Cagliari in the last few minutes, but apart from Ibarbo's determined-as-ever running, there is no one looking to take any risks and make things happen.
Have to say that the last Cossu chance was the first we've seen of Cagliari as an attacking force in the second half. Inter, led by the substitute Icardi, have been the superior side, and look more dangerous than they did before the interval.
GREAT COUNTER from the visitors, as Ibarbo holds the ball up excellently against Samuel, and lays one off for Cossu at the top of the box. He takes a second to shift it onto his favoured foot, but when he does, he unleashes a piledriver that whistles over the crossbar!
Adryan looks to have tweaked his knee after moving and landing awkwardly in an attempt to intercept a ball. It doesn't look serious, but Lopez is taking no risks with the young Brazilian, and subs him off immediately for Eriksson.
OH FREDY! He did everything right, except the finish. He makes a clever overlapping run down the right side of the box, and cuts in onto his left foot to leave his marker for dead. He has the goal in his sights, and space to aim for, but he whacks his finish well clear of the top corner! Disappointing end!
Alvarez shows uncharacteristic pace to catch up to the ball before it rolls over the byeline, and he hooks a cross back in towards the area. It's a decent delivery too, but no one in black and blue is in position to attack it.
Assist Mauro Icardi
Icardi has turned this game on its head! Nagatomo picks him out with a great cross towards the far post, and he flicks a header towards the centre of the goal. Rolando stabs the ball home from point blank range, but it only just bobbled over the line after a touch from Avramov!
INTER RIGHT BACK IN IT!
CHANCE FOR ICARDI! A clip from Kuzmanovic flies over the defensive line and picks out the striker inside the box! He brings the high ball down beautifully, holds off a defender but lashes hit shot over the top! Still, the substitute is looking dangerous already!
Two crosses from Inter to start the second half, much like their beginning to the opening period. But both times, they've played the ball far too close to Avramov, who had no problems plucking both balls out of the air.
Only one change to report from the half time break, as Milito is subbed off for Icardi. Not sure if it was a tactical decision or not, but apart from a late chance at the very end of the first half, the Argentine striker was rather anonymous.
Inter kick off again to resume the game.
Plenty to ponder for both Mazzarri and Lopez here, with Cagliari holding a narrow lead at the break thanks to Pinilla's accuracy from 12 yards out. The game has struggled for clear cut chances, but there's no doubt that the visitors will be the happier side at the interval, having just about shaded matters so far. Stay tuned for the second half.
45' + 2'
HANG ON, ONE LAST CHANCE! Milito races onto a through ball from Guarin, but is denied at the near post by Avramov. The ball is loose, and Alvarez is on the rebound, but the Cagliari keeper does enough to parry his follow up once more! Great double save, and that's it for the half!
45' + 1'
Into the first and only minute of stoppage time. Nothing much happening on the pitch, as both teams look to press the reset button at half time.
You can't really deny Cagliari their lead, as they've just about shaded matters in this first half. In fact, Jesus is still lucky to be on the pitch, as though accidental, that handball for the penalty was as obvious as they come. Carmine Russo however decided against showing him a second yellow card.
Ibarbo's running has caused problems all night, and with another barreling foray forward, nearly gets into shooting space inside the box once again. It takes a desperate tackle from Samuel to get rid of the danger.
Penalty Goal M. Pinilla
NO MISTAKE! Pinilla drills the ball into the bottom left corner, with Handanovic diving the other way. 1-0 Cagliari!
Oh dear. Jesus has had a terrible afternoon, and it's gotten worse. He's struggled against Ibarbo, and when the latter lashed a shot towards goal, the ball bobbled up against the Brazilian's arm. Blatant penalty, and Cagliari have a great chance...
INTER HAVE A PENALTY!
Guarin eschews an easy clearance deep inside his own half in favour of trying to play his way out of trouble. He's immediately closed down by two players, and is robbed of the ball, but thankfully for him, it rolls over the touchline.
VECINO! By far the best chance of the match! Vecino advances from midfield with the ball and has the eyes for a pass, but with no one closing him down, he instead drives all the way to the edge of the box and unleashes a vicious drive that whistles past the post!
Cagliari sportingly punt the ball back down to the Inter end to give them back possession, and the game can resume.
Nasty clash of heads inside the Cagliari box, as a host of players rise to attack a free kick. Ibarbo and Avelar seem to have come off worse for wear, and the game is halted for the Cagliari pair to receive some treatment from the physios.
Some real pressure being put on Cagliari by the home side now. Nagatomo is hurriedly crowded out inside the area after latching onto a cross in what looked like a dangerous shooting position, and the visitors just can't seem to get out of their own half at the moment.
Palacio sprays the ball wide to Jonathan, who lofts in a challenging cross towards Guarin at the far post. He rises well to nod the ball back across the face of goal, but it flashes dangerously in front of Milito and Palacio, neither of whom reacted quickly enough to prod home!
Alvarez has committed quite a few untidy fouls in the early goings, and is lucky to avoid being the third booking of the day after clipping Adryan late with a lazy leg. The Argentine midfielder is one of seven Inter players that are a yellow card away from serving a suspension.
Yellow card apiece for either side now, as Dessena draws the referee's ire for holding back Milito in blatant fashion on an attempted Inter break, following a failed corner from the visitors.
Yellow Card Daniele Dessena
Astori is again called into action at the back, rising with Samuel to flick away a dangerous cross just before the Argentine could attack it from point blank range! Very solid defending from the Cagliari man so far.
Guarin, on his left foot, whips in a cross, and it's not a bad delivery! It just evades the head of Palacio though, and Astori is the man to make contact with the ball first, clearing just ahead of the late run of Alvarez.
Ibarbo showcases another sublime moment of skill to ghost past two players, and is caught by the third, winning his side a free kick in the opposition half. His ability to draw fouls has already been valuable in the opening 20 minutes, and he's been the best player on the pitch so far.
Guarin, for the second time this afternoon, decides to take aim at goal from outside the box. This time, he looked to have gotten his effort on target, but a deflection off Astori takes all the poison off the shot, and makes it an easy grab for Avramov.
Inter just starting to hold onto possession a little bit more, but still cannot fashion anything meaningful despite getting plenty of bodies forward in support of the man on the ball. Ibarbo has already showed his quality while running with the ball, so they better be careful that the visitors don't catch them pushed too high up the pitch.
Poor execution once again from the Nerazzurri, as Guarin hacks a half volley into the stratosphere, before Jesus' through pass towards the darting run of Milito rolls over the byeline, a good five or six feet ahead of the frustrated Argentine.
Not happening for Inter at the moment as they bid to win their third game in a row for the first time this season.The passing has broken down on multiple occasions far away from the opposition goal, and Milito especially looks isolated.
You have to say that Lopez's men have been the superior side during the opening exchanges here. They've found a good deal of space twice inside the Inter penalty area, and with better execution from Pinilla and Ibarbo, they may well have tested Handanovic already.
Ibarbo looks to take on Jesus and Nagatomo, and with a delightful shimmy and drop of the shoulder, beats them both. Advancing into the box down the byeline, he has options to pick out in the area, but doesn't come close, flashing a wild cross well over the top. Disappointing end to a really promising move.
Cagliari launch their first attack of the game, and it's no surprise to see Adryan as the man orchestrating matters in the attacking third. He clips in a well weighted cross towards Pinilla, who sets up for the spectacular with an overhead kick, but gets it terribly wrong. Goalkick.
Yellow Card Juan Jesus
Juan Jesus becomes the first booking of the game, perhaps harshly as it looked like Ibarbo made a little too much of his contact in a challenge.
Inter have already gotten two crosses into the box in the early goings here, and with a little more accuracy, they could have really tested the Cagliari defence. The visitors are sitting very narrow at the moment, allowing space on the overlap for the fullbacks or an extra midfielder like Guarin.
Milito tries to take on the defence, but spotting three men on his tail, he decides to pass the buck and lay off to Guarin just outside the box. The Colombian midfielder skips past a challenge but goes down in a heap. It looked like a foul, but the referee was better placed than I and decides to wave play on.
Cagliari get the game underway.
Carmine Russo is our referee for the afternoon, and he orchestrates the pre-match handshakes here. The teams are in position, and we're all set...
That doesn't make for good reading against an Inter side that has lost only once at home in the league all season. However, Lopez may be encouraged by the fact that their last four games against the Nerazzurri have seen them avoid defeat - winning once and drawing thrice in that period.
If Cagliari are to get anything from this game, their terrible away form must not be continued here at San Siro. Diego Lopez's team have not managed a win on the road for the entire season, picking up five out of 33 points and scoring a paltry four goals.
Walter Mazzarri's men have turned a corner as of late, recording wins against Fiorentina and Sassuolo to move within five points of the former in fourth place. They seemed to have bounced back well from that 3-1 defeat against Juventus, and can further solidify their Europa League place with a win here.
Cagliari meanwhile look to be lining up with a narrow 4-3-1-2 formation. Adryan is the man chosen to pull the strings in attacking midfield, as Mauricio Pinilla and Victor Ibarbo do the heavy lifting up front. Andrea Cossu is also handed a start with Daniele Conti missing through suspension.
Inter welcome back Ricky Alvarez to the starting XI after the Argentine missed the past fortnight of action with a muscle injury. He takes the place of Hernanes in the hole, tucking in behind compatriots Rodrigo Palacio and Diego Milito. Another Argentine, Walter Samuel, continues in the centre of the defence for the injured Hugo Campagnaro.
CAGLIARI (4-3-1-2): Avramov; Dessena, Rossettini, Astori, Avelar; Vecino, Cossu, Ekdal; Adryan; Ibarbo, Pinilla.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Rolando, Samuel, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Alvarez, Nagatomo; Palacio, Milito.
Hello and welcome to another round of Serie A action. Today sees Inter host Cagliari at San Siro. Bringing you the action as always, I'm Keeghann Sinanan.
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