Atalanta are in with a real shot of fourth place after beating Chievo thanks to a goal from Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez.
The Bergamo boys had already qualified for Europe for the first time in 28 years and were determined to end the season on a high, perhaps even snatching fourth place from Lazio, who visit Crotone tomorrow. It was a goodbye for a few star names, as Franck Kessie is heading to Milan, while Andrea Conti and maybe even Papu Gomez are expected to leave this summer.
Gian Piero Gasperini missed Etrit Berisha and Abdoulay Konko, while Chievo had Lucas Castro and Ivan Radovanovic suspended. Nicola Rigoni, Riccardo Meggiorini, Dario Dainelli, Alessandro Gamberini and Perparim Hetemaj were unavailable.
Chievo’s last victory in Bergamo was 1-0 in February 2010 thanks to a Sergio Pellissier strike, followed by two draws and four defeats.
A deflected Jonathan De Guzman effort was fingertipped away, but Papu Gomez’s scorcher stung Andrea Seculin’s gloves and on the rebound Andrea Conti’s volley was smothered from 10 yards, although the offside flag was incorrectly raised.
The Gomez free kick curled inches past the near top corner, but on the stroke of half-time Andrea Petagna thought he had to score when denied by brave Bostjan Cesar defending, flinging himself in the way from close range.
There was a standing ovation as Cristian Raimondi took off his armband for the final time. The veteran midfielder will join the Atalanta coaching staff next season.
The hosts did break the deadlock eventually, as Bryan Cristante’s through ball allowed Papu Gomez to spring the offside trap and drill past the on-rushing Seculin for his 16th Serie A goal of the season. That matches the all-time club record set by Cristiano Doni (2001-02) and German Denis (2011-12).
Jasmin Kurtic nodded off target from a Leonardo Spinazzola cross, but Petagna was wasteful, running on to a Kurtic assist only to hit the angled drive straight at Seculin.
Cristante dispossessed Mariano Izco for his low drive to be fingertipped on to the far post by Seculin.
Sergio Pellissier rolled across for an unexpected hitman, centre-back Nicolas Spolli, who had sprinted up the field to force a save from Pierluigi Gollini.
Giulio Migliaccio also waved goodbye to the fans at his retirement. He came off the bench for the last four minutes plus stoppages and never stopped crying throughout his time on the pitch.