Inter were left to pay for an extremely disappointing performance on Friday night, slipping to a 2-1 defeat to Cagliari in Serie A.
Despite lying just six points above the relegation zone, it was Cagliari who dominated the opening exchanges against their more illustrious opponents. After creating numerous chances, I Rossoblu got their deserved opening goal on the half hour mark, as club captain Luca Ceppitelli planted a towering header past Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal.
Cagliari's joy was short-lived however, as Radja Nainggolan's cross was met by a stooping header from Lautaro Martinez to equalise for the Nerazzurri just seven minutes later. But with just minutes to go before half-time, Leonardo Pavoletti struck a sweet first-time volley into the near post to hand the initiative back to Cagliari.
The hosts saw the game out for victory, with Inter now anxiously watching over their shoulders as rivals Milan look to leapfrog them in Serie A when they take on Sassuolo on Saturday.
Key Talking Point
Starting XI: Handanovic (7); D'Ambrosio (5), De Vrij (6), Skriniar (6), Asamoah (6); Vecino (5), Brozovic (6); Politano (5), Nainggolan (8*), Perisic (6); Martinez (7).
Substitutes: Valero (6), Candreva (6), Ranocchia (N/A)
STAR MAN - Back at his former club, Radja Nainggolan's performance was one of the only silver linings on the dark clouds beginning to form over Inter.
Despite being unable to prevent his side from falling to defeat, the Belgian could not be faulted for his desire or commitment, often being the heart of Inter's more positive moments going forward. The 30-year-old provided the inch-perfect cross for Martinez's equaliser, and drove his team on with some of his trademark powerful runs.
Nainggolan re-gaining form is great to see. At his best he really is a complete midfielder. Ability to drive at defence makes them apprehensive to press and leave space, therefore he gets more time on the ball to find a pass, allows he to exceed creative expectation.— . (@mezzala8) March 1, 2019
Having fallen to an embarrassing defeat to Cagliari in Serie A, Spalletti's men travel to Germany on Thursday to take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 clash.