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Bari 0-1 Cagliari (Cagliari win 2-1 agg): What Were The Main Talking Points As Claudio Ranieri’s Men

In what was a stunning dramatic ending at the Stadio San Nicola on Sunday night, Cagliari clinched an immediate Serie A return as they snatched a last-gasp 1-0 victory away at Bari.

While Claudio Ranieri’s men might have suffered real first-leg heartbreak at the Unipol Domus earlier in the week as they eventually had to settle for a 1-1 draw in Sardinia, the former Leicester boss produced their own dramatic ending here.

With 34-year-old Leonardo Pavoletti writing himself into Cagliari folklore after coming off the bench and bagging a famous 94th-minute winner, the Islanders certainly booked their Serie A return in a remarkable fashion.

Putting in a gritty display this weekend and limiting Bari to just a single shot on target, Ranieri’s side have certainly ended their second-tier adventure with a real flurry.

On a night when Gil Isolani officially punched an immediate Serie A return, we have taken a look at the main talking points from Sunday’s dramatic showdown at the Stadio San Nicola.

Cagliari secure an immediate Serie A return

Losing their Serie A status last season by just a single point and coming under a huge amount of scrutiny, it was no secret that Cagliari had an immediate top-flight return at the top of their agenda this time around.

While the Islanders might have found themselves at the heart of another public struggle when heading into the World Cup’s winter break, the Sardinia-based outfit have enjoyed a famous 2023 romp.

Punching their play-off final ticket with a heavyweight statement as they secured a 3-2 aggregate win against Parma earlier in the month, Ranieri’s high-flying squad have continued on a remarkable purple patch.

Completing their fairytale story in the most dramatic of style on Sunday night, Cagliari have lost just one of their last 20 straight appearances against second-tier opposition – a run that stems all the way back to February 3rd.

Signing off the 2022/23 campaign in the midst of a free-scoring four-match winning run, the Islanders couldn’t have wished for a better way to punch their immediate Serie A return.

Ranieri cements his spot as an icon in Sardinia

Clinching what is a hugely lucrative top-flight return on Sunday night, there is no doubt that Ranieri has been the architect behind all of Cagliari’s success in 2023.

While the former Leicester hero might have returned to the Unipol Domus on December 23rd

with the Islanders sitting 14th in the Serie B table and tipped as a landslide play-off outsider, Ranieri has completed a stunning turnaround in Sardinia.

Visibly left in tears at the final whistle and only further cementing his spot as one of Cagliari’s most iconic figures, the 71-year-old deserves a string of praise for what has been a fairytale return.

In fact, this is now the third time that the one-time Chelsea boss has guided Cagliari to Serie B play-off success after clinching back-to-back promotions at the start of his managerial career 30 years ago.

Once again writing himself into the history books after masterminding Cagliari’s 2023 romp, Ranieri will undeniably be relishing the Islanders’ return to Italy’s elite.

Bari must take the positives away from their own iconic season

Although the entire Bari squad might have fallen to their knees at the final whistle and suffered what was the harshest of play-off heartbreak, Sunday’s hosts must try and take away the positives from their own stunning campaign.

While the Cockerels might have only made their Serie B return this season, Michele Mignani’s men have certainly gained a string of plaudits from across Italy’s second-tier.

Shocking almost everyone as they punched a remarkable bronze medal finish in 2023, the former Modena boss has given the Apulia-based outfit a real platform to build on over the summer.

Although Sunday’s infamous 1-0 loss might mean that Bari signed off their Serie B adventure with just a pair of wins from their last eight appearances against second-tier opposition, Sunday’s hosts have gained a reputation for their rugged approach.

Suffering just a single defeat at the Stadio San Nicola since the end of January, Mignani’s heartbroken squad will now be looking to prove that their famous play-off charge was not just a one-off.

Match Report

Bari: Caprile, Dorval, Di Cesare, Vicari, Mazzotta, Benedetti, Maiello, Maita, Morachioli, Esposito, Cheddira

Subs: Ceter, Ricci, Molina, Folorunsho

Cagliari: Radunovic, Zappa, Dossena, Obert, Azzi, Lella, Makoumbou, Deiola, Di Pardo, Luvumbo, Lapadula

Subs: Viola, Mancosu, Prelec, Barreca, Pavoletti

Goals: Pavoletti (90+4’)

Yellow Cards: Bari: Dorval, Benedetti, Maita – Cagliari: Mancosu, Deiola, Luvumbo

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Marco Guida

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