Fiorentina lined up with the usual formation of 3-4-2-1 with Nenad Tomovic replacing Carlos Sanchez. Sousa opted with a more attacking midfield with no Milan Badelj from the start and Matias Vecino and Borja Valero sitting behind Riccardo Saponara and Federico Bernardeschi. Cagliari came into the game following a crushing 5-1 defeat to Inter, they look to set up with a 4-3-1-2 system with Marco Boriello the main threat with 12 goals this season.
Cagliari had the opening chance as Joao Pedro latched on to over the top ball and just couldn't direct his header.
The first real chance also came to the away side, on 10 minutes Marco Borriello came so close to opening the scoring as he had two chances within 2 minutes. The first as he cut in brilliantly past Gonzalo and saw his effort parried and Cagliari just couldn't follow in as Tatarasanu gathered.
The second an effort from the edge of the area which looked destined for Tata's right hand corner, but just shaved the post. The game had come to life and this sparked a response from the viola. Kalinic at other end was sent through but couldn't manage to get in through the legs of Rafael.
It was a real end to end affair in the opening 20 minutes. Tello was the next to test Rafael as he used his immense pace but in true Tello style he should have used his brain, and looked up and passed. However, he selfishly shot and was denied by the Brazilian in the Cagliari goal.
It was a pure mystery how it was still goalless at the Franchi after 20 minutes. Efforts from Saponara and Bernadeschi both couldn't get past Rafael as they were both well saved.
The best chance of the half fell to Kalinic. From a brilliant whipped in corner by Bernardeschi, the big Croat somehow couldn't score from two yards out. An incredible miss, which looked to be a certain goal. You started to wonder if it was going to be one of those days for the Fiorentina with several chances spurned already.
Wait for it... another missed Fiorentina chance as Borja floated a ball towards the back post, which was met by Kalinic who couldn't direct it into the far right corner.
The final chance of the half was a prime example of the infuriating Christian Tello. In a three on two counter attack, Kalinic slipped it wide to the Spaniard who as expected couldn't finish past Rafael
Cagliari were the first to make a change with a sub-Nicola Murru off for Senna Miangue.
True to the style of the game on 52 minutes Fiorentina saw another chance go begging as Chiesa looked to drive a low strike in but Rafael again was there to deny the young Italian.
Borriello looked to be the only threat whenever Cagliari did get forward. He forced Tatarasanu into action with a quick turn and shot which the Romanian had to tip over.
Fiorentina were forced to make a defensive substitution as rather innocuously Tomovic was shepherding the ball out of play he felt his calf go and Sanchez was immediately called to replace him. Sanchez was brought on as well as Ilicic for Saponara as Sousa looked to change things up.
Chiesa again came close to opening the scoring as he cut inside on his weaker side and unleashed a fierce attempt from 25 yards out but was denied yet again by Rafael who was having an incredible game. Tello so almost made it 1-0 seconds later but his deflected effort trickled past the post.
For the last 10 minutes and needing a goal, Sousa decided to take off Bernardeschi and bring on Badelj. I think I heard the whistles all the way here from the North East of England. Sousa sure does know how to make the fans happy.
It almost got so much worse as moments later, Marco Sau was left completely free at the far post but his header was denied by the post.
With the game all but over Cagliari almost snatched it at the death. Barella received his own pass, intended for Boriello who was offside. The 20-year-old raced through but couldn't snatch all three points for the Isolani.
In an incredible game of missed chances, it just didn't seem to be the viola's day until 92 minutes into the game. Kalinic sent the viola fans into ecstasy. Tello put in a brilliant ball to the far post (Yes the same Tello.) The Spaniard finally found that bit of quality when it was neeeded and Kalinic rose high and headed it down low and finally knocked down the Brazilian wall in goal.
A huge sigh of releif in the whole of florence. It looked for so long as if it wasnt going to be the viola's day. 10 games left in the season and it doesnt look like it’s going to get better than 8th with Milan 5 points clear in 7th however you never know. I'm going to be optimistic and hope this spring oards Fiorentina to play with more confidence and belief. Might be getting ahead of my self now. But, with Crotone next it’s a brilliant opportunity to get two wins on the bounce and try to catch Milan.
Tatarasanu: 6.5 Didn't have much to do but dealt with everything that came towards him.
Tomovic: 6 Solid afternoon for Nenad. However, the defence was stretched on occasion in the first half with no real fullbacks in the side.
Gonzalo 6: Barring the opening 20 minutes was never really tested and with a clean sheet I'm sure the captain will be happy.
Astori 7: Centreback/wingback from Astori who played well, offering a hand going forward and solid defensively.
Tello 6: Was so close to being such worse rating than 6. Tello possess so much pace and such a poor final ball/shot. Well, this was the case for 91 minutes. In fairness to him, it was a great ball in for the assist, if only we could see more of that.
Valero 7: A more defensive display from Borja who did it well. Himself and Vecino dominated the midfield.
Vecino 7: An assured performance from the Uruguayan who rarely gave the ball away and always looked forward.
Chiesa 7: His energy levels never wavered; from the first to the last minute he was always trying to make things happen. Could have easily had a few goals to his name.
Saponara 6: Never really got into the game much, Probably the least effective of the attacks.
Bernardeschi 7: He's always at the heart of the attacks, subbed inexplicably by Sousa, amazed he didn't kick off and have a little tantrum cos I know I would have.
Kalinic 8: One of his most frustrating game in a viola shirt until the last minutes of the game. But Nikola gets an 8 for being there at the right place at the right time and for making myself and many Fiorentina fans weekends happier.
Ilicic- 6 Came on and tried his best to make a difference. Played well with some good crosses.
Sanchez 5: was brought on for Tomovic after his injury, didn't do much wrong however with his first involvement he committed a foul throw, for that its a 5
Badelj: 6 Came on for some strange reason for Bernardeschi, with Babacar staying on the bench a very very strange substitution. Thankfully, in the end, it didn't matter.