Claudio Ranieri has guided Cagliari to an immediate Serie A return after the Sardinians sealed promotion thanks to a dramatic late win at Bari.

Having drawn the first leg of their play-off final on Friday, Cagliari dominated proceedings in the return fixture and were eventually rewarded in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time as Gabriele Zappa's dangerous cross was turned in by Leonardo Pavotelli to spark joy and despair in equal measure. 

The victory means the Islanders join Frosinone and Genoa in Italy's top flight next season. 


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Ranieri enjoyed successive promotions during his first spell in charge of Cagliari between 1988 and 1991, taking them from Serie C to Serie A.

At the age of 71, he is set to be the only manager in his eighth decade in Europe's top-five leagues apart from Roy Hodgson.

After a nerve-jangling evening, he said: "Cagliari means everything to me. My feeling for this shirt is authentic.

Claudio Ranieri is carried aloft by Cagliari's players after earning the club promotion
Claudio Ranieri lost just two of his 25 games in charge of Cagliari en route to promotion

"I remember when I won the Premier League [with Leicester], I immediately thought about the Rossoblu colours [of Cagliari].

"I will always be grateful to those who brought me back to Sardinia. And I want to think about our fans, our people, not only those who come to the stadium - and we have a small stadium - but to all those who have supported us until the end in recent weeks. Having given joy to such a passionate group of supporters makes me so proud."

Since his glorious spell in charge of the Foxes, Ranieri has had stints at Fulham, Roma, Sampdoria and Watford, before taking over the hotseat at Cagliari this New Year's Day, taking them from mid-table into the play-offs, where they defeated Venezia and Parma before seeing off Bari.