Cagliari moved off the foot of the Serie A table as Albin Ekdal’s explosive 15-minute hat-trick gave them a famous 4-1 triumph at 10-man Inter Milan.
The visitors took an early lead through Marco Sau, which was cancelled out by Dani Osvaldo, but the game truly came to life following the dismissal of Nagatomo, with Cagliari midfielder Andrea Cossu also missing a penalty as Inter threatened to implode.
Osvaldo had an early chance to break the deadlock, but the on-loan Southampton forward barely had the chance to connect with the ball before the danger was quickly snuffed out by Cagliari’s defence.
It was the visitors who surprisingly opened the scoring after 10 minutes, with Inter’s defence giving signs of what was to follow.
A long ball forward created havoc, with Nagatomo only able to head the ball on towards Sau, who chested the ball down before turning and firing past a helpless Samir Handanovic.
Rodrigo Palacio was denied by Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno, whose goal was breached in the 18th minute when the Argentinian’s quickly-taken free-kick played in an unmarked Osvaldo to score an easy leveller.
Yet the turning point of the match came when Nagatomo received his marching orders. Having been booked moments earlier, the Japan international was sent off in the 27th minute for a late challenge on Cossu.
It appeared a harsh decision from referee Luca Banti, but Cagliari took advantage in ruthless fashion and thanks, in no small part, to some woeful Inter defending two minutes later.
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Daniele Dessena’s rasping drive from the right edge of the box was beaten away by Handanovic, but, with Inter unable to clear their lines, Ekdal stole in to score Cagliari’s second.
The Sweden international midfielder struck again in the 34th minute when Victor Ibarbo was allowed to charge into the area before pulling the ball back to Ekdal, who was left to thump the ball into an empty net.
The one-way traffic continued as Nemanja Vidic hacked down Sau in the area, although Handanovic was able to guess right and save Cossu’s poorly taken spotkick.
Yet it was only temporary respite as Ekdal completed his hat-trick to leave a chorus of boos ringing around San Siro, the 25-year-old once again taking advantage of some hesitancy in the Inter area to breach Handanovic’s goal once more.
Nerazzurri boss Walter Mazzarri appeared furious and made a double change as Gary Medel and Dodo made way for Fredy Guarin and Danilo D’Ambrosio.
The changes managed to stem the tide as Cagliari posed virtually no threat in the second half, yet Inter were unable to find a breakthrough themselves.
Osvaldo thought he had narrowed the deficit when he converted at the back post from D’Ambrosio’s cross from the right, but Inter’s bad luck continued as the 28-year-old had been ruled offside.
Palacio’s volley from a cross was rebuffed by Cragno, but otherwise Cagliari comfortably held on.Follow @Football7x24