After their 0-0 draw with Catania last week, Ivo Pulga made five changes to his Cagliari side, Gabriele Perico, Nicola Murru, Albin Ekdal, Andrea Cossu and Thiago Ribeiro replacing Francesco Pisano, Danilo Avelar, Radja Nainggolan, Mauricio Pinilla and Marco Sau. Andrea Stramaccioni made three changes to the side that were beaten by Atalanta, Matias Silvestre, Walter Gargano and Ricky Alvarez entering for Andrea Ranocchia, Walter Samuel and the injured Antonio Cassano.
Despite Cagliari nominally being the home team, the match was effectively played at a neutral venue in Trieste as a result of the Sardinian side's stadium woes. It was Inter who looked more like the home team despite playing in their away kit, patiently passing the ball around in the opening stages whilst Cagliari looked to use the pace of Victor Ibarbo on the break.
Inter carved the best opportunity of the half, Esteban Cambiasso bursting forward from midfield and exchanging passes with Tommaso Rocchi, leaving the Argentine midfielder one-on-one with Michael Agazzi. He delicately lobbed the ball over the advancing goalkeeper only to see it come back off the post.
Ricky Alvarez was a lively presence throughout the half, his mazy run ended inside the box but Gabriele Perico recovered to block his shot.
Cagliari did have their moments, Davide Astori hitting a thunderous free kick from 35 yards that went just wide of the post and Victor Ibarbo poked a low cross wide from six yards under a challenge from Alvaro Pereira.
Just before the break, Alvarez had another opportunity, cutting in from the right and hitting a fierce shot from 20 yards, the ball sailing just over the bar.
After the break, the match followed a similar pattern with Inter dominating possession and Cagliari looking to break. Tommaso Rocchi went on an uncharacteristic run through the Cagliari defence, ending in a fierce left footed shot that Agazzi had to be alert to palm away.
A mistake by Daniele Conti in his own box allowed Alvarez a shot however Agazzi saw it safely wide.
The match was then turned on its head as Cagliari were awarded a penalty. Substitute Mauricio Pinilla broke into the box and was seemingly felled by Matias Silvestre. Replays showed there was minimal contact but Silvestre went into the book and Pinilla dusted himself off to slam home the spot-kick.
The goal meant that Inter were putting more men up the pitch and as a consequence, Cagliari's breaks were finding more and more success, Thiago Ribeiro's header forcing Samir Handanovic into a low save.
With 15 minutes remaining, Cagliari made it 2-0. Matias Cabrera passed into Pinilla from the right channel, the Chilean's first touch being a little heavy but taking the ball away from the static Inter defenders. He then beat Handanovic to the loose ball and poked home over the Slovenian goalkeeper.
The remaining minutes were spent with Inter looking for some kind of consolation, however they lacked any cutting edge, owing to the amount of strikers currently on their injury list. Victor Ibarbo came close to making it 3-0, his shot cannoning off the crossbar and in the end Cagliari comfortably saw out the result.
Cagliari: Agazzi; Perico, Rossettini, Astori, Murru; Conti, Dessena (Pinilla 56), Ekdal (Cassarini 85), Cossu (Cabrera 7); Ibarbo, Thiago Ribeiro
Inter: Handanovic; Zanetti, Silvestre, Juan Jesus, Pereira; Cambiasso (Nagatomo 57 (Samuel 75)), Gargano (Kuzmanovic 53), Kovacic; Guarin, Alvarez; Rocchi
Goals: Pinilla pen 63, 76 (C)