Cagliari 4-3 Udinese: Relegated Serie A side Cagliari bow out with a win
Last Updated: 31/05/15 8:05pm
Cagliari drew a line under 11 years in Serie A by beating Udinese 4-3 in their last game before submitting to relegation.
The Sardinians' return to the second tier was confirmed weeks ago despite a mini revival under new head coach Gianluca Festa, who on Sunday oversaw his fourth win since replacing Zdenek Zeman.
Marco Sau and Joao Pedro gave fans reason to be optimistic about the future with confidently taken first-half goals and, after Rodrigo Aguirre's first goal for Udinese dragged the northerners back into contention, Paul-Jose M'Poku restored the two-goal advantage.
A frantic finale was on the cards when Bruno Fernandes clawed the scoreline back to 3-2, and the Portuguese midfielder then steered the hosts back towards swansong victory with a late own goal.
Had he not put through his own net then Cyril Thereau's 87th-minute goal would have denied Cagliari a winning send-off.
There was a party atmosphere tinged with menace at the Stadio Sant'Elia, with Cagliari's hardcore fans spending the opening minutes rhythmically chanting 'Serie B, Serie B!' from the south stand.
That fired up their team to put on a show before falling into that league, and the first goal arrived in the 13th minute.
Sau was well placed to sweep up a loose ball on the edge of the area and Simone Scuffet could do nothing to keep out a sweetly struck drive to the far post.
Cagliari kept pushing and doubled up in the 19th minute as Joao Pedro took advantage of a minimalist Udinese wall at a free-kick, with his set-piece streaking past the hapless Scuffet.
It might even have been 3-0 before the half-hour mark as Nicola Murru latched onto a Sau pass before watching Scuffet punch his left-footed effort to safety.
Udinese finally managed to tighten up and went close to halving the deficit in the 38th minute, when Aguirre twice tried to beat Zeljko Brkic with headers before Thomas Heurtaux nodded over.
Aguirre - on as an early substitute for the injured Silvan Widmer - would get the ball over the line just before half-time.
Fernandes did the hard work, wriggling into the box in order to set up his Uruguayan team-mate, who controlled the ball with his chest before hammering it between Brkic and his near post.
Cagliari moved quickly to reassert their authority when play resumed and Sau almost hit the target when cleverly put through by Murru.
In the 63rd minute M'Poku's shot from distance grazed the crossbar and Duje Cop went even closer when he emerged from the bench to blast wide from a few yards out.
The Sardinians' determination paid dividends in the 79th minute when M'Poku grabbed a third goal.
Sau was once more heavily involved as he laid the ball up for the Congolese to rifle over Scuffet's shoulders.
Fernandes sent worried gasps around the stadium with a second Udinese goal, thrashing home from the edge of the box after Antonio Balzano's clearance fell kindly for him in the 81st minute.
He would score again, but instead of plundering an equaliser he was found turning Murru's cross past his own goalkeeper to negate the effect of his goal from four minutes earlier.
The floodgates were now open and a seventh strike went Udinese's way.
A neat exchange between Thereau and Giovanni Pasqual allowed the former to steer home a crisp finish, but it was not enough for Udinese, who finish the season in a disappointing 16th place.