Joao Pedro’s fine goalscoring form continued as the Cagliari captain helped his team to a 2-0 win over Sampdoria in Serie A on Saturday, leaving both teams level on points in the middle of the table with ten each.
A penalty gave the forward his fifth goal in as many games – the first to do so in as many consecutive appearances for the Isolani since Alessandro Matri in 2009 – also taking him to 23 in the calendar year – more than any other Brazilian in Europe’s top five leagues.
The game was put beyond doubt later in the second half when Nahitan Nandez swept home his first of the season on the counter-attack on an afternoon in which Cagliari also managed to keep their first clean sheet in the league this term.
The Calcio went ahead without fans once more after COVID restrictions were tightened throughout Italy midweek leaving fans with no hope of going to the ground again for the time being, the Sardegna Arena sadly silent apart from the shouts of those on the playing surface.
Casteddu were inches away from an early lead when Joao Pedro hit the joint of both post and crossbar with a diving header from a brilliant, in-swinging Adam Ounas cross from deep on the right flank but then the game fell flat.
Both sides continued to play some tidy, one-touch football in the middle of the pitch but there was little in the way of making inroads towards goal for either.
Then came controversy on the 37th minute, Tommaso Augello’s poor touch sending Nandez clear though on goal leaving the left back no option but to trip his opponent, the former initially given a yellow card by referee Giovanni Ayroldi before it was changed to a straight red after a VAR review, leaving the away team with ten men.
Gaston Ramirez went down after a challenge from Sebastian Walukiewicz and never recovered, being replaced by promising Dane Mikkel Damsgaard just before the end of a first half that ended goalless.
Eusebio Di Francesco made a positive half-time substitution by replacing central midfielder Razvan Marin with winger Sottil as he looked to make the numerical advantage count.
Such positivity paid off immediately when Cagliari were awarded a penalty for Lorenzo Tonelli’s foul on Joao Pedro just a couple of minutes after the restart, the Brazilian stepping up himself to net his fifth goal of the league season.
Nandez doubled the lead for the home team after racing through onto a Giovanni Simeone through ball, taking a couple of touches before keeping his composure to slot the ball past Emil Audero with his weaker left foot from the edge of the area.
The hosts thought they had their third goal, Sottil tapping in after another smooth counter attack saw Ounas set free in order to cross into the box, but VAR saw their joy short-lived and the game ended in a two nil win for the Sardinians.