Lino Marzorati and Simone Zaza put Sassuolo in cruise control with two first half strikes. Nene and Marco Sau replied for the hosts to ensure a share of the spoils. Both teams remain in the bottom half of Serie A.
Mauricio Pinilla was suspended for the home side. Goalkeeper Michael Agazzi was in the stands and remains frozen out amidst a contract dispute. Sassuolo made the trip without suspended pair Luca Antei and Antonio Floro Flores.
Cagliari suffered an early blow after Victor Ibarbo pulled up with a groin problem, so Nene was introduced.
The away side dominated the first half and Marzorati put them ahead on 14 minutes. The defender rose highest to head in Domenico Berardi's pinpoint corner.
Sassuolo almost doubled their lead two minutes later. Gaetano Masucci and Zaza went for the same header, with Masucci getting to the ball first and nodding wide. Zaza was bemused with his teammate, feeling he was in a better position to score.
Cagliari were lucky not to be punished when they switched off on another set piece. Francesco Magnanelli's delivery was met by Zaza, who snatched at his shot and pulled the ball wide. The frontman fared better with his next effort, doubling Sassuolo's lead on 19 minutes. Masucci took the ball from Davide Astori, then Zaza collected Berardi's pass and slotted the ball under Vlada Avramov into the bottom corner.
The Neroverdi were dominant. Zaza evaded Luca Rossettini in the box, only to slip and balloon his volley into the stands. Avramov ran out and smothered at the feet of Berardi twice as Sassuolo continued to carve Cagliari open.
Cagliari finally fashioned a chance seven minutes before the break. Radja Nainggolan saw a screamer deflect over the bar with Gianluca Pegolo beaten. Masucci had to be treated on the sidelines for a facial injury, but he was able to return to the field.
Daniele Dessena was introduced during the break to give Cagliari an extra number in midfield. Sassuolo still went after a third goal. Berardi curled over from the edge of the box and Masucci bent a shot just wide of the far post after a cheeky nutmeg on Daniele Conti.
The Sardinians were handed a lifeline on 73 minutes. Francesco Pisano floated a cross for Nene to powerfully head down into the bottom corner. It was the frontman's first goal in over a year. The goal spurred Cagliari on. Paolo Bianco prevented Nene and Sau from getting on the end of Dessena's cross, before Rossettini headed over from a corner.
With just three minutes to play, Cagliari got their equaliser. Pegolo parried Nainggolan's shot from distance into the path of Sau, who was denied by a sharp point blank stop. The ball came back to Sau who made no mistake at the second attempt.
Avramov denied Karim Laribi a late winner as neither side rested on their laurels. Sassuolo retain the unwanted stat of having the worst defensive record in the league.
Cagliari: Avramov, Astori, Rossettini, Murru, (Dessena 46) Pisano, Nainggolan, Conti, Eriksson, Cossu, (Ibraimi 69) Sau, Ibarbo (Nene 12)
Sassuolo: Pegolo, Marzorati, Acerbi, Bianco, Longhi, Magnanelli, Marrone, (Chibsah 85) Gazzola, Zaza, Berardi, (Kurtic 70) Masucci (Laribi 78)
Goals: Marzorati 14 (S) Zaza 19 (S) Nene 73 (C) Sau 87 (C)