Juan Iturbe was inspirational as Verona earned a surprise win in Bergamo, keeping their European dreams alive.
These were two surprise packages expected to fight for safety, but who found themselves in the running for Europe with just five rounds to go. The Orobici were without Stefano Lucchini, Guglielmo Stendardo, Franco Brienza, Lionel Scaloni and Riccardo Cazzola. Verona had Romulo injured and the trio of Jacopo Sala, Domenico Maietta and Marco Donadel suspended.
Hellas haven’t won in Bergamo for over 40 years, as their last and only victory was in October 1972. There is a fierce rivalry between the clubs and crowd trouble before kick-off.
Within 80 seconds Marko Livaja had threatened, slipping as he turned the finish inches wide of the near post.
Luca Toni missed a golden opportunity, as Andrea Consigli only palmed a Juan Iturbe shot into the veteran’s path, but he came sliding in and fired wide from six yards.
Iturbe was again very dangerous for the visiting team, but Consigli stayed alert to parry one-on-one from a Marquinho assist.
Livaja was substituted at the dawn of the second half and provoked fans behind the Atalanta bench, making aggressive gestures.
Verona finally took the lead with former Atalanta midfielder Massimo Donati, who smacked a fierce shot on the half-volley from distance to fly into the top corner.
Marcelo Estigarribia fought back for Atalanta, forcing Rafael into a difficult save at the near post, while Marquinho blasted straight at Consigli.
Verona doubled their lead with Toni, although he only had to tap into an empty net after Iturbe had turned on the turbo to burst between three Atalanta jerseys and roll across.
Juanito Gomez Iturbe thought he had made it 3-0, but his right-foot strike thumped the upright with Consigli rooted to the spot.
Atalanta’s afternoon got even worse, as Brivio suffered an injury after the substitutions had been completed, so they played the final 15 minutes with 10 men.
Nonetheless, Atalanta got one back late on when a free kick was flicked on for German Denis to volley from six yards.
The Orobici could even have equalised in stoppages, but Maxi Moralez ballooned over after Rafael parried a Luca Cigarini strike.