Serie A: Cagliari run out 3-1 winners at Fiorentina
Last Updated: 26/04/15 7:44pm
Duje Cop ensured Gianluca Festa's debut on the Cagliari bench went swimmingly with a brace to down Fiorentina 3-1 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
The former Inter Milan and Middlesbrough man has been charged with leading the Sardinians' survival bid and before kick-off they were 10 points shy of safety.
Seventeenth-placed Atalanta are now seven points away thanks to goals in each half from Cop and a last-gasp screamer from Diego Farias, while veteran striker Alberto Gilardino managed a late response for the hosts.
It was a third straight Serie A defeat for Fiorentina, who were unable to transfer their Europa League form to the league having reached the competition's semi-finals this week.
And perhaps still hungover from their meeting with Dynamo Kiev, the Tuscans should have heeded an early warning shot from Albin Ekdal, who forced Neto into a sprawling save.
They did not reorganise properly and, in the seventh minute, Cop fired Cagliari's opener.
Farias found enough space in behind Fiorentina's backline to put Cop through on goal and the Croatian clipped home from six yards.
The islanders remained dangerous on the counter-attack throughout the first half and could have doubled up when Farias skipped past Stefan Savic only for Nenad Tomovic to clear.
Paul-Jose M'Poku soon won a corner off Savic and Farias might have notched after the ball was put into the area, but he missed the mark.
Cagliari went close again on the half-hour mark with M'Poku setting Cop up for a one-on-one with Neto that the Viola goalkeeper managed to win on this occasion.
With the interval approaching Fiorentina mounted a rally with Modibo Diakite repelling David Pizarro's drive with his head before Alessandro Diamanti blasted wide from a Tomovic pass.
Cagliari launched another fearsome raid when play resumed and M'Poku was only denied a certain goal by the offside flag after racing on to Joao Pedro's through ball.
Fiorentina's next chance was arguably a better one with Gilardino drawing a fine stop from Zeljko Brkic with a header from Juan Vargas' cross.
It was to prove a false dawn for the Tuscans, however, as they fell two goals behind in the 59th minute.
Cop did all the legwork for his second, skipping past Savic before beating Neto with lightly-struck shot that flicked off Jose Maria Basanta on its way in.
It was almost 3-0 when Cop tried to convert Farias' spilled attempt and Cagliari paid for wasting the opportunity.
In the 74th minute, the well-travelled Gilardino opened his account for Fiorentina by sticking Vargas' cross-cum-shot beyond Brkic.
La Viola sensed blood and went all-out for the draw, substitute Mario Gomez taking Joaquin's corner on his shoulder only to rifle wide from six yards out.
Then, deep into stoppage time, Cagliari rubber-stamped their first away victory since October with a third goal, which arrived through Farias.
It was arguably the best finish of the round, the Brazilian dancing past Joaquin and Tomovic before steering the ball across Neto and just inside of the far post.