Walter Mazzarri took everyone by surprise when he decided to use the squad rotation system, which is a bit of a new approach to a coach that never rotated his players while at Napoli. Rolando, Mateo Kovacic, Alvaro Pereira and Ishak Belfodil started for the nerazzurri. On the other side, Diego Lopez left perhaps the best Cagliari player, Marco Sau, on the bench, opting for a Victor Ibarbo - Mauricio Pinilla partnership in attack.
Bad weather before the game and a very wet pitch conditioned the performance of both teams. The game was scrappy and riddled with misplaced passes, yet both sides had a few chances. Mazzarri's team had the upper hand and were able to create more, but unfortunately for Inter, Cagliari goalkeeper Michael Agazzi found his form, saving the isolani on a few occasions.
Mazzarri introduced Mauro Icardi for Ricky Alvarez at the beginning of the second half, a move that would finally put an end to the tedious boredom experienced by all watching the match -- although it took until the 75th minute for Icardi to break through with a header. After Inter pulled ahead, the game got a bit more lively, with Cagliari now forced to attack. The hosts' pressure paid off when Radja Nainggolan's shot from distance was deflected by Rolando and Samir Handanovic could do nothing to stop it.
After Cagliari's goal, Inter took control, desperate to find a winner. The visitors had two late chances, from substitutes Rodrigo Palacio and Diego Milito, players who would normally start for the nerazzurri. Perhaps that proves that Inter are lacking in depth required to successfully deploy squad rotation and that Mazzarri should stay faithful to his habit of using only 13-14 players throughout the entire season -- or maybe this was Mazzarri's master plan to silence his critics.
Cagliari: Agazzi; Perico, Rossettini, Astori, Avelar; Dessena, Conti, Nainggolan; Cabrera (Ibraimi 62'); Ibarbo, Pinilla
Goals: Nainggolan 83'
Inter: Handanovic; Rolando, Ranocchia (Milito 88'), Juan Jesus; Nagatomo, Guarin, Cambiasso, Kovacic, Pereira; Alvarez (Icardi 46'); Belfodil (Palacio 63')
Goals: Icardi 75'