Milan (AFP) - Radja Nainggolan inspired Cagliari to a 5-2 win over Fiorentina as the Sardinians continued their fine form to move third in Serie A on Sunday.
The Mediterranean outfit have 24 points from 12 games -- seven points behind leaders Inter Milan, who moved top after beating Verona 2-1 on Saturday.
Defending champions Juventus are second and can reclaim the number one spot when they host 13th-placed AC Milan later on Sunday.
"Not even in the most optimistic forecasts could we have imagined being here," said Cagliari coach Rolando Maran.
"Radja is capable of extraordinary things and you just have to stand back and applaud."
Fiorentina are struggling without Franck Ribery who has been given a three-match ban for pushing an official.
But Cagliari, who battled relegation last season, have been in superb form since Nainggolan returned after five years away, including a difficult season at Inter Milan last term.
The Belgian contributed three assists and capped a stellar performance with the fifth goal of the game after 65 minutes.
Serb Dusan Vlahovic pulled two late goals back for Fiorentina in the final quarter of an hour but the Tuscans are eighth.
The game was halted at the 13th minute, as both teams paid tribute to former Fiorentina captain Davide Astori who also played for Cagliari.
Four minutes later Nainggolan set up Mark Rog for the opener, with Fabio Pisacane nodding in the second less than ten minutes later.
The 31-year-old Nainggolan was involved again in Giovanni Simeone's third goal against the Spanish forward's parent club, as well as Joao Pedro's effort ten minutes after the break, before blasting in his second goal of the campaign from a distance.
He was given a standing ovation when substituted after 78 minutes.
"There is little to comment, it was an ordeal," said Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella.
"They were clearly superior to us. We need to draw lessons from this."
Cagliari extended their winning run to a third consecutive game and are unbeaten in ten games, which includes seven victories and three draws.
Roma travel to Parma later on Sunday where a win would put them back ahead of Cagliari.
Atalanta and Lazio will bid to move level on points with the Sardinians against Sampdoria and Lecce respectively.