Atalanta were forced into a real battle to beat 10-man Chievo 2-1 with Luca Cigarini’s strike off the bench.
This was a relegation dogfight, although the Orobici did have a seven-point advantage over the Flying Donkeys. Atalanta’s excellent home record would suggest three points were in the bag, especially as Chievo had scored only seven goals away this season. However, the Veronesi’s top flight record in Bergamo was three wins, a draw and four defeats.
Gennaro Sardo sat out a ban for the visitors, while Riccardo Cazzola and Gianpaolo Bellini were sidelined. Marko Livaja was frozen out after refusing to warm up during the final minutes of last week’s 1-1 draw at Udinese.
Guglielmo Stendardo desperately intercepted a Cyril Thereau cross for Alberto Paloschi.
Atalanta took the lead when Nicolas Frey’s poor clearance bounced to the edge of the box, where Carlos Carmona scuffed the shot past Michael Agazzi.
Andrea Consigli had to be brave and alert to smother at the feet of Paloschi from a couple of yards after a smart Perparim Hetemaj assist.
Yohan Benalouane aimed a rocket just off target from distance, but Cristian Raimondi wasted an extraordinary opportunity to make it 2-0. He ran on to a slide-rule pass to meet the ball totally unmarked from seven yards only to balloon over the bar.
Paloschi’s header skimmed the frame of the goal, but Agazzi needed a spectacular save to palm Giacomo Bonaventura’s effort round the base of the post.
Bostjan Cesar was already the most booked player in Serie A going into this weekend and added to that tally with two in the same game. He saw red for raising his arm in a challenge on German Denis.
Despite going down to 10 men, Chievo still drew level moments later. Dario Dainelli soared above the crowd to get his glancing header on the end of a Matteo Rubin free kick.
Chievo were now taking control in Bergamo, much to the chagrin of a nervous crowd. Only an acrobatic save from Consigli prevented Sergio Pellissier from scoring with his header tipped out from under the bar on a corner.
However, Atalanta restored their advantage with Luca Cigarini, who had come off the bench two minutes earlier. It was a well-worked move with Denis and he finished it off with a fierce low drive from just inside the area.
Chievo still wouldn’t give in and Consigli punched away a Hetemaj effort.
Sent off: Cesar 68 (C)