Kevin Strootman grabbed a last-minute point for Roma after Morgan De Sanctis gifted Atalanta the lead.
The Giallorossi were eager to get back on track after three consecutive draws saw them lose the Serie A leadership to Juventus. Francesco Totti, Marco Borriello, Vasilis Torosidis and Federico Balzaretti were injured, but Adem Ljajic and Miralem Pjanic were surprisingly dropped. Atalanta missed Guglielmo Stendardo, Cristian Raimondi, Mario Yepes and captain Gianpaolo Bellini.
Before kick-off the local fans held up cut-outs of tanks, referencing the controversial pre-season party where Giulio Migliaccio drove a tank over cars painted in Roma and Brescia colours. There is an intense rivalry between these clubs and it was reflected in the large police presence.
Andrea Consigli got down to palm a Marquinho snapshot round the post as it bounced right in front of the goalkeeper. Gervinho’s first touch let him down when running on to a Bradley assist, while Kevin Strootman blasted just wide of the near top corner.
Atalanta went extremely close on 27 minutes, as a free kick was knocked on for Franco Brienza, whose shot on the volley cracked against the base of the near post with the aid of a deflection off Mehdi Benatia.
The Orobici already had an injury crisis and added another name to the list when Cristiano Del Grosso collapsed clutching the back of his thigh, but Giacomo Bonaventura made his comeback and Davide Brivio moved to the defence.
Gervinho had penalty appeals for a clumsy Cazzola shirt-tug, but the referee waved play on. Daniele De Rossi drilled wide from distance after the restart, but a Morgan De Sanctis howler allowed Atalanta to go in front.
It was a Brivio free kick that rolled under the defensive wall and De Sanctis completely misjudged the ball, seeing it bounce over him at the base of the near post.
Rudi Garcia made a surprise change, introducing Adem Ljajic for De Rossi and moving to a 4-2-3-1 system with Gervinho as the centre-forward.
Strootman’s daisy-cutter was fingertipped inches past the far post and Adem Ljajic blasted over from a promising position.
Gervinho dribbled past two defenders and pulled back from the by-line only for Michael Bradley to horribly scuff the finish. Moments later a corner was charged down – possibly by Michele Canini’s arm – and Bradley was offside when putting his diving header into the net.
Consigli smothered a Strootman snapshot and the Atalanta goalkeeper performed a spectacular save from point-blank range on Alessandro Florenzi’s header in the final minutes.
Consigli denied Gervinho again after a mazy run, but could do nothing when the move continued and Ljajic pulled back from the by-line for Strootman to tap in from six yards.