Atalanta converted a soft penalty in the final stages to hold SPAL 1-1 in Ferrara, but the relegation battlers extend their unbeaten run to five rounds.
The Ferrara club was surging two points clear from the relegation zone, but hosted an Atalanta side in a fight for European qualification. The Orobici suffered a shock midweek defeat to Sampdoria and had to do without Mattia Caldara, Josip Ilicic and Leonardo Spinazzola. Francesco Vicari was suspended for SPAL, joining Federico Mattiello, Marco Borriello and Boukary Drame in the stands.
The last time Atalanta beat SPAL was a 1-0 home result in January 1977, followed by two defeats and six 1-1 draws in all competition. Their most recent success in Ferrara was all the way back in December 1962.
Robin Gosens almost broke through within two minutes, his effort deflected on to the side-netting at the near post. At the other end, Etrit Berisha used his legs to deny Alberto Grassi’s angled drive, then the goalkeeper risked a howler when fumbling Federico Viviani’s long-range strike and it squirmed wide.
Viviani’s free kick stung Berisha’s gloves and Filippo Costa’s effort was deflected on to the side-netting by Gianluca Mancini.
Atalanta thought they had scored on 26 minutes when a Papu Gomez low curler bounced off the upright and Remo Freuler turned in the rebound, but only after he had been flagged offside.
Manuel Lazzari made a decisive sliding tackle on Gomez in the penalty area and SPAL found the opener from a set play. Viviani was involved again, his free kick finding defender Thiago Cionek for an acrobatic diving header from 10 yards.
Alex Meret used an outstretched leg to deny Gomez one-on-one, but SPAL were unlucky not to double their lead when Viviani’s rocket smashed against the underside of the crossbar and back out with Berisha stranded.
The referee pointed to the spot when Meret parried a Barrow effort and as the cross came back in, Costa nudged Papu Gomez in the back. It was a relatively soft decision, but Marten De Roon converted by squirming it in at the near post despite Meret getting a hand to it.
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