Gian Piero Gasperini admits Atalanta “belong up there” in the race for the top four and victory away to Cagliari was “a show of maturity.”
Hans Hateboer got the decisive header in Sardinia, meeting a cross from Timothy Castagne.
“It’s very satisfying, because crosses from the wing-back to his opposite number was something we put into practice more last season than this term, with Spinazzola and Conti, but it’s good to have that weapon in our armoury,” Gasperini told Sky Sport Italia.
The win put them in joint fifth place with Lazio and Roma, just one point behind Milan, and arrived days after beating Juventus 3-0 in the Coppa Italia.
“This is a great victory, clearly different to the others and played less well, but it was against a more defensive and physical side who made it very difficult for us to play.
“We have several different ways of playing, so we can defend when we need to and can be exhilarating when we need to. Our performances against all the big clubs were strong and made us realise we belong up there.
“This is the kind of result that pushes you up the table, so it was a show of maturity for a team that deserves to be in the top spots.
“There are many teams crammed together up there, all the way from Torino or even Parma. That’s why a success like this gives us extra belief.”
Simone Inzaghi said Lazio were most concerned about Atalanta and Milan, because they do not have European commitments.
“Undoubtedly, it is an advantage not being in the Europa League. We had three games in a week this time, but we did well in all three.”