Eto'o silences racist chants
The battling victory put champions Inter level on points with AC Milan, who beat Chievo on Saturday, but Lazio's 2-0 win at Bari kept the Romans top of the standings by two points.
Tricky playmaker Hernanes, one of the buys of the season from Sao Paulo, latched on to Italy midfielder Stefano Mauri's pass to give Lazio an early second-half lead before Sergio Floccari sealed the points from Mauri's mishit shot.
Lazio flirted with relegation last term but coach Edy Reja has them riding high on 16 points from seven matches.
Napoli, in fourth, missed the chance to join Inter and Milan on 14 points after a 1-1 draw at Catania where Edinson Cavani netted his sixth league goal.
Juventus made a bad start but now lie just five points from the summit after a rampant 4-0 home win over Lecce sparked by Alberto Aquilani's first goal for the club.
The former Liverpool and AS Roma midfielder fired in from 25 metres before Felipe Melo, booed by his own fans for much of last term, continued his renaissance with a cheeky penalty and Fabio Quagliarella nodded in on his knees just before the break.
Milos Krasic, distraught when Serbia's Euro qualifier in Italy was abandoned on Tuesday because of rioting away fans, was again superb before Alessandro Del Piero scored a late fourth to equal Giampiero Boniperti's Juve record of 178 Serie A goals.
In the early game, Cameroon's Eto'o took his league tally to six goals from seven games this season and, like most of his recent efforts, the 39th-minute goal was a marvellous strike.
Wesley Sneijder hooked on and Eto'o twisted and turned like Inter's serpent symbol on their new away kit before planting a left-foot shot into the corner from the edge of the box.
"Cagliari put us under pressure but we deserved the lead. Eto'o is enjoying a great moment and we hope he continues like this," Inter's Javier Zanetti, back from injury for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Tottenham Hotspur, told Sky.
Eto'o's strike was the perfect riposte to the Cagliari fans whose racist chants towards him caused the referee to suspend the game after three minutes.
A public announcement was made asking fans to stop the chants, which they did for the rest of the match. The game restarted after around three minutes.
The Italian football federation, which has long struggled with racist fans, gave referees the right to suspend matches in case of such chanting after Mario Balotelli was constantly abused in Inter's match at Juventus two seasons ago.
Inter had other chances but the hosts also went close when they hit the bar and Julio Cesar was forced into a double save.
The table is beginning to take on a familiar look and Palermo joined Juve on 11 points in fifth after Javier Pastore and Josip Ilicic enhanced their growing reputations with spectacular strikes in a 4-1 home win over struggling Bologna.
Fiorentina slumped to bottom after Antonio Cassano scored the winner in Sampdoria's 2-1 comeback victory, prompting visiting coach Sinisa Mihajlovic to say he would not quit.
Cesena drew 1-1 with Parma and Udinese won 1-0 at Brescia.