Paulinho’s goal proved enough for Livorno’s first win in eight, but Atalanta had Carlos Carmona sent off after 34 minutes.
The Amaranto ended a run of four consecutive defeats by holding Torino 3-3 midweek and Luca Siligardi returned, though Pasquale Schiattarella was suspended. Atalanta were without Mario Yepes, Giampaolo Bellini, Giacomo Bonaventura, Franco Brienza, Stefano Lucchini, Luigi Giorgi and the banned Guglielmo Stendardo.
In the opening minute Siligardi forced Andrea Consigli to parry at the near post, but it was Paulinho who broke the deadlock.
The Brazilian ran on to a through ball to surprise the Atalanta defence and his angled drive went across Consigli into the far bottom corner.
Andrea Luci hit a screamer at Consigli from distance, while the visitors only threatened from set plays. Maxi Moralez wanted a free kick and possibly also a card when he went down on the edge of the box under an Emerson shove, but the referee waved play on.
The situation got even worse for Atalanta when Carlos Carmona received a second yellow card for a scything challenge on Ibrahima Mbaye, leaving the Orobici with 10 men for almost a full hour in Tuscany.
Paulinho thought he had made it 2-0 three minutes after the restart when he sprung the offside trap and dribbled round the goalkeeper, but Lionel Scaloni sprinted back for a decisive goalline clearance.
Leandro Greco’s free kick dipped just over the bar, but Maxi Moralez was harshly booked for simulation when he appeared to lose his footing as Atalanta tried to push forward.
Giuseppe De Luca ran on to a long Moralez ball and Francesco Bardi came tearing off his line to parry. At the other end, Consigli spilled a shot, but was able to stop Greco making the most of it.
In the final minutes Alfred Duncan could not have gone closer to another Livorno goal, as his angled drive beat Consigli only to bounce off the inside of the far post. Nonetheless, Atalanta remained in this game until the end and made it a tense finale.
Sent off: Carmona 34 (A)