SARDEGNA ARENA (Cagliari) – Cagliari continued their push for a European place after hammering Fiorentina 5-2 on a soaking wet Sunday afternoon in Sardinia.
The hosts were fantastic and dominated from start to finish, once again led by captain Radja Nainggolan on an afternoon in which they looked practically unstoppable, and moved third in the Serie A table.
First half goals from Marko Rog, Fabio Pisacane and ex Fiorentina man Giovanni Simeone were added to by Joao Pedro and Nainggolan in the second half to seal a convincing win for Casteddu, with Dusan Vlahovic pulling two back for the visitors.
The home side almost took the lead with the first chance of the game when former Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone somehow smashed the ball wide from three yards out, following a Joao Pedro knockdown from a Nahitan Nandez cross.
A very moving episode saw the game come to a complete standstill on the 13th minute as both players and supporters alike paid an emotional tribute to former player Davide Astori.
Cagliari did, however, break the deadlock thanks to Marko Rog when the industrious midfielder lifted the ball over Bartlomiej Dragowski from inside the area after a threaded through ball from Nainggolan, before they began to batter their opposition.
Rolando Maran’s side soon doubled the lead and deservedly so, with Pisacane heading home from a Luca Cigarini corner.
Casteddu added a third soon after as they took complete control of the game, Simeone with an audacious flicked finish from another Nainggolan assist after the former had seen his own effort palmed back into his path by Dragowski, before looking up to the sky in memory of Astori.
The second half began as the first ended, Nainggolan grabbing his third assist of the afternoon when he robbed the ball in his own half, before releasing a sublime pass with the outside of his boot to Joao Pedro who tucked away his 6th of the season in style to celebrate the signing of his new contract.
Man-of-the-match Nainggolan got in on the act himself, unleashing a superb effort into the top corner from outside the area as Cagliari continued to pummel Vincenzo Montella’s side.
Vlahovic registered twice for La Viola, his second a fantastic curled effort which went in via the upright, but it was too little too late for the away side as they left Sardinia having been on the receiving end of a thumping.