Atalanta swept Genoa aside 2-1 to continue their march towards that Champions League qualification, despite missing several key players.
Due to restructuring work at the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia, their last two Serie A home games of the season are at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium.
Gian Piero Gasperini faced his former club, but had to do without suspended Papu Gomez, Andrea Masiello and Gianluca Mancini, while Rafael Toloi was injured, so Hans Hateboer had to be a makeshift centre-back with Mario Pasalic behind the forwards. Genoa were desperate for a positive result, sitting only four points clear of the relegation zone, but Stefano Sturaro, Darko Lazovic, Luca Mazzitelli, Andrea Favilli and Oscar Hiljemark were ruled out.
This was often an exciting fixture, with 35 goals in the last 10 Serie A meetings, but they hadn’t shared the spoils since a 2-2 draw at Marassi in January 2015, followed by five Atalanta wins and three for Genoa.
Robin Gosens hit the back of the net at the ninth minute when following up a save on Timothy Castagne, but the goal was disallowed because Duvan Zapata was in an offside position and interfering with play, having to jump over the ball to let it through.
Just nine minutes later, Atalanta had another goal ruled out, as Duvan Zapata was once more offside when shrugging off Cristian Romero to drill into the far bottom corner.
Jose Luis Palomino was booked for a mistimed tackle on Gianluca Lapadula and will be suspended against Juventus.
Lapadula was allowed a relatively free header at the far post, but nodded it just wide of the upright, while Pierluigi Gollini had to scramble across to get his fingertips to a Miguel Veloso strike.
Mario Pasalic was entirely anonymous in the first half, so Gasperini introduced Musa Barrow, moving Ilicic to the trequartista role. It paid off immediately, as Barrow scored with practically his first touch. Ervin Zukanovic was caught out by a Marten de Roon through ball and Barrow buried it into the far bottom corner, despite Ionut Radu’s half-hearted attempt at a save.
The spaces suddenly opened up and Atalanta took full advantage. Gosens pulled back from the by-line, Berat Djimsiti was surprisingly up in the penalty area to roll it on for Timothy Castagne to tap in at the far post.
Ilicic almost walked it into the net before running into a crowded six-yard box, then Gosens forced a save from a tricky angle, but goalscorer Barrow was forced off after a knock to the ribs just 18 minutes after coming on.
Genoa made little real impact, although on 82 minutes Pierluigi Gollini did need a good save to push the Romero header off the line, then he mistimed his rush out for a long ball and Lapadula couldn’t finish it off.
In the final minute, Romero set up Pandev to drill home from 12 yards and give Genoa another tense finale. However, unlike against Roma last week, they were unable to get a point out of the comeback.
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