Gianluca Mancini’s winning goal was at first disallowed, then given via VAR, as Atalanta fought hard to defeat Chievo.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men were starting to feel the strain of reaching February on three fronts, losing the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg to Juventus on Tuesday and above all suffering injuries to Papu Gomez, Mattia Caldara and not 100 per cent fit Josip Ilicic. Chievo were struggling for different reasons, managing just two points in eight games. Fabrizio Cacciatore and Samuel Bastien were suspended after their avoidable red cards against Juve, joined by Lucas Castro and Nenad Tomovic in the stands, so Emanuele Giaccherini was put straight into the starting XI after his loan move from Napoli.
Atalanta have lost just once in their last 10 meetings with Chievo, home and away, a 1-0 result at the Bentegodi in December 2015.
Bryan Cristante’s header from a Josip Ilicic corner skimmed the bar, then the midfielder was sent clear by Ilicic to force a tricky Stefano Sorrentino save.
Ilicic complained when he was tripped by Alessandro Gamberini just outside the area, but it was judged to be an accidental coming together.
Cristante was again involved, drilling just wide on an Andrea Petagna knock-down, and his looping header landed on the roof of the net.
An acrobatic Ilicic volley was charged down at the near post and Andreas Cornelius came off the bench to force a Sorrentino save.
Atalanta finally got a deserved opener in chaotic circumstances. Cristante knocked on an Ilicic corner and Mancini turned it in using his chest and stomach from close range. It was at first disallowed for handball, but the decision was revoked via VAR.
Marten De Roon saw his scorcher palmed on to the crossbar by Sorrentino, but Roberto Inglese came off the bench and created Chievo’s first real chance on 86 minutes, his header whistling inches wide. It was too little, too late.
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