Cagliari vs Inter 0-2: Nerazzuri Reach a Piece of Club History

Inter made light work of newly-promoted Cagliari in a one-sided Serie A contest at Unipol Domus, steamrolling to a 2-0 victory. Two unanswered goals inside the opening half an hour inspired Nerazzurri to a fourth straight top-flight win in Sardinia for the first time in the club’s history. 

Back to Serie A after a season-long absence, Cagliari had a decent start to the 2023/24 campaign, holding Torino to a tepid 0-0 draw last Monday. Claudio Ranieri’s side boasted an impressive 89.47% unbeaten ratio during the regular Serie B season last term, but upholding that record against Inter was always going to be an uphill task.

Simone Inzaghi’s high-flyers took this trip following a comfortable 2-0 home win over Monza on the opening weekend. Lautaro Martinez scored on either side of halftime to inspire Inter to a perfect Serie A start at Giuseppe Meazza. The Argentine came close to adding to his tally only 14 minutes into his first fifth league appearance at Unipol Domus.

Martinez was on the scoresheet in three out of four previous Serie A visits to this venue. However, the post stopped him from harassing Cagliari again, as the woodwork deflected his well-taken half-volley from just outside the six-yard box. The 26-year-old fired a warning shot at the Sardinians, which fell on the home side’s deaf ears.

Only seven minutes later, Denzel Dumfries took advantage of a poor reaction from Cagliari’s backline to open the scoring. The Dutch wing-back breezed past his marker before collecting Marcus Thuram’s delightful through ball and finishing with aplomb into the bottom far corner.

Dumfries’ strike set the tone for a memorable first-half showing from Inter. After being denied by the post, Martinez found his ninth goal in as many league matches against Cagliari with a top-class finish. The new Nerazzurri captain picked up Federico Dimarco’s pass inside the box and showed composure to beat Boris Radunovic with a nifty shot.

Inter went 2-0 up on the half-hour mark but showed no interest in taking their feet off the gas. They created several half-chances in the remainder of the first half, though Ranieri’s side weathered the storm to enter the interval with a two-goal deficit.

But the second half brought a change in scenery, with Inter taking a more conservative approach. Encouraged by their visitors’ lackadaisical attitude, Cagliari started venturing forward in numbers in pursuit of a breakthrough. Unfortunately, clear-cut opportunities were at a premium. The hosts looked much better in the second half but had nothing to show for it.

To Cagliari’s defense, they neutralized Inter’s attacking threat in the second 45 minutes. Whether it was Inzaghi’s tactical choice or Ranieri’s dressing-room talk, Nerazzurri’s presence in the final third vanished in thin air after the break. After launching 12 shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes, they were reduced to a single attempt off target in the second half before Hakan Calhanoglu hit the post in the 86th minute.

Cagliari thought they had pulled one back through second-half substitute Paulo Azzi in the 90th minute, but Yann Sommer pulled off a brilliant diving save to deny the Brazilian from point-blank. It was the last chance of the game as Inter started a fifth consecutive Serie A season with back-to-back wins for the first time in the club’s history.

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