Vincenzo Montella returned to the 3-5-2 after playing a 4-4-2 in the last encounter with Genoa and made two changes, David Pizarro not deemed fit enough to start with Juan Cuadrado coming into his place, whilst Facundo Roncaglia replaced Marvin Compper at the back. Diego López made four changes from the side that lost to Milan at the San Siro, Davide Astori replacing Lorenz Ariaudo at the back, Gabriele Perico and Andrea Cossu coming into midfield for Matias Cabrera and Albin Ekdal and Victor Ibarbo making his first start of the season for Mauricio Pinilla.
In the opening couple of minutes, Fiorentina looked rampant as they really fired out of the blocks to put the visitors under pressure straight from the whistle. After their early onslaught, the Viola began to settle down and although they had the majority of the possession, actually creating anything like a meaningful chance seemed out of the question.
The problem was that the usually-excellent midfield combo were looking slow and laboured in their movements and this wasn't helped when the lively Cuadrado fell awkwardly and injured his shoulder. After a lengthy treatment period he returned to the pitch but he was clearly uncomfortable and he had to make way for Joaquin just before the half-hour mark.
A brief moment of energy came courtesy of Borja Valero, his intelligent run into the area allowed him to shoot but his shot was charged down as far as Mario Gómez, his effort also blocked by the tireless Cagliari backline.
The Rossoblu did look dangerous on the break, Ibarbo and Marco Sau looking especially energetic and Ibarbo reached the bye-line to lay the ball back to Gabriele Perico, his long-range effort deflected over. The resulting corner provided the best chance of the match so far as Daniele Conti flicked it on for Davide Astori, unmarked and virtually under the crossbar but somehow the Italian international conspired to head over.
Three minutes into the second half and Fiorentina were faced with yet another injury concern. Mario Gomez was fed into the box and rounded Michael Agazzi, eventually shooting over however he collided with the Cagliari goalkeeper and was left holding his knee. He did manage to hobble off with his knee heavily iced however the seriousness of the injury remains to be seen and Olexandr Iakovenko replaced him.
A flurry of activity for Cagliari saw an attempted lob from Ibarbo easily gathered by Neto and soon after a corner was cleared only as far as Radja Nainggolan, his volley skimming the upright.
The match was beginning to warm up at least in terms of chances, but in terms of actual play it remained a scrappy affair, with neither side really able to come up with any fluency. Giuseppe Rossi hit what looked like a tame, bouncing free kick goalwards but it was so well placed that it had Agazzi scrambling across to claw it wide, the resulting corner headed wide by Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Fiorentina came closer than they had done to taking the lead in the 69th minute, Manuel Pasqual's cross looking for Giuseppe Rossi was scooped on to his own crossbar Luca Rossettini, a lucky escape for the centre back who had looked so solid for so long in the match.
Three minutes after this, and Fiorentina did finally take the lead. Aquilani swung in a wicked cross from the left and although Giuseppe Rossi's header was blocked, the ball fell kindly for an unmarked Borja Valero and the Spanish midfielder headed in from a couple of yards.
The Viola then looked relatively comfortable, and seemed content to protect their lead, knowing that they hadn't played particularly well but were still all set for all of the points however with just a minute to play, Cagliari got a deserved leveller. Nicola Murru put a perfect ball into the box and substitute Mauricio Pinilla was on hand to rise highest and head in.
The match finished with controversy during stoppage time, as Giuseppe Rossi was brought down in the area and no penalty was given. David Pizarro told the referee in no uncertain terms what he thought of the decision, earning him a straight red card and forcing Fiorentina to see out the last few minutes a man down.
Fiorentina: Neto; Tomovoc, Roncaglia, Rodriguez; Cuadrado (Joaquin 29 (Pizarro 70)), Ambrosini, Aquilani, Valero, Pasqual; Gómez (Iakovenko 51), Rossi
Goals: Valero 72
Sent off: Pizarro 90 +2
Cagliari: Agazzi; Dessena (Cabrera 75), Rossettini, Astori, Murru; Perico, Conti, Nainggolan; Cossu (Pinilla 65); Sau (Ekdal 90 +1), Ibarbo
Goals: Pinilla 89