Inter Milan's hopes of Champions League football next season were dealt a severe blow after suffering a 2-0 defeat at Cagliari on Sunday.
Inter were the dominant force for much of the game but failed to take their chances in front of goal, with Mauricio Pinilla's second-half brace condemning Andrea Stramaccioni's men to their second successive loss after last week's 4-3 capitulation at home to Atalanta.
With Inter dictating the match, Cagliari were content to play on the counterattack and after having two penalty claims rejected, the referee pointed to the spot in the 63rd minute when Matias Silvestre fouled Pinilla, who stepped up and rifled the ball past goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Cagliari could have doubled their lead six minutes later had it not been for a lack of direction on Thiago Ribeiro's header which enabled Handanovic to make a routine save.
Inter continued to prove wasteful in front of goal and their fate was sealed in the 76th minute. Once more it was Pinilla, who stabbed the ball into the roof of the net after a delightful one-two with Matias Cabrera.
The 2010 Italian champions fall to seventh in the standings, one point adrift of rivals Roma, who accounted for Torino 2-1 despite playing the final nine minutes with 10 men.
Pablo Osvaldo put Roma ahead on 22 minutes before Rolando Bianchi cancelled out the Italian's effort nine minutes later.
Argentine attacker Erik Lamela restored Roma's lead on the hour-mark and it proved to be the match-winner although they were made to work in the close stages after Federico Balzaretti saw red for a second bookable offence.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Udinese moved to within two points of Inter thanks to a 3-0 win over Parma, relegation-threatened Palermo held Bologna to a 1-1 draw, fellow strugglers Genoa earned a point in their 1-1 stalemate with Sampdoria, while Chievo and Catania shared the spoils after a goalless encounter.
In the later kick-off, AC Milan failed to gain ground on second-placed Napoli after a 1-1 draw at the San Siro.
Mathieu Flamini had the hosts ahead on the half-hour mark, only for Goran Pandev to equalise three minutes later.
Flamini later turned villain when he was sent off on 72 minutes, although Walter Mazzarri's men failed to capitalise on their man advantage.
Regardless, Napoli have a four-point buffer over third-placed Milan through 31 matches.
|Coach: I. Pulga|
for A. Cossu 7'
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