Atalanta confirmed their familiarity with the Mapei Stadium, their home away from home, with a 3-0 victory over Sassuolo.
The Neroverdi had been transformed under Beppe Iachini and had Matteo Politano in the starting XI despite Napoli and Juventus engaging in a bidding war over his services. The Orobici rested several key players ahead of Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final with Juve, including injured Leonardo Spinazzola.
Atalanta are now unbeaten against Sassuolo since a 2-0 defeat in Bergamo in April 2014, followed by five wins and four draws, home and away in all competition. The Mapei Stadium is being used by Atalanta this season as their home ground in the Europa League.
Andreas Cornelius should’ve scored in the opening minutes, as Bryan Cristante knocked on a corner that bounced off his shin and inches wide.
Cornelius then knocked back a long cross for Cristante, but Francesco Acerbi was ready to intercept a potential tap-in. Andrea Consigli got down well to beat away a Josip Ilicic angled drive.
However, the goalkeeper was at fault for the opening goal, as he flapped aimlessly at Ilicic’s free kick and allowed Andrea Masiello to nod into an empty net.
Simone Missiroli had penalty appeals when he failed to get on a dangerous cross from six yards, but replays suggest he lost his footing.
Straight after the restart, Missiroli nutmegged a defender and rolled across for Politano, whose curler from the edge of the box cannoned off the upright. Moments later, Ilicic went on the counter and was caught by Pol Lirola’s last-ditch tackle as he was pulling the trigger.
Bryan Cristante thought he had added a second goal on 65 minutes when Ilicic’s free kick was chipped up for a training ground routine, but it was disallowed for offside using VAR.
Consigli fingertipped a powerful Ilicic set piece over the bar and Alessandro Matri almost scored with an audacious back-heel flick from eight yards, but Pierluigi Gollini performed a crucial reaction save at the base of the near post.
Berardi’s effort flashed across the face of goal, but just as Sassuolo were building pressure, Atalanta doubled their lead. Cristante’s goal did count this time, as Ilicic dribbled into a crowd and still managed to prod it back for the ex-Milan midfielder to spin and strike from 12 yards.
Remo Freuler turned in at the end of another chaotic team move with terrible defending and goalkeeping, but while it was initially disallowed by the linesman, Paolo Valeri viewed the whole thing again on VAR and gave the goal several minutes later.
Deep into stoppages, Edoardo Goldaniga received his second yellow card, completing a nightmare game for Sassuolo.
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Sent off: Goldaniga 96 (S)