Atalanta crushed Sassuolo 4-1 on their own turf with a stunning first half performance, including Papu Gomez brace, Duvan Zapata and Robin Gosens.
Luis Muriel was still out with tonsillitis, but Duvan Zapata returned to the starting XI after a supersub role to score in the midweek 2-0 victory at Roma. Marco Sportiello was surprisingly chosen in goal, while Sassuolo rested Francesco Caputo to put Gregoire Defrel in a centre-forward role.
It was a bright start, as within three minutes Papu Gomez’s shot from 10 yards was deflected wide after lovely interplay with Josip Ilicic.
Gomez immediately showed he was in the mood with a sensational solo goal. He gathered in midfield, shrugged off one tackle, nutmegged another defender, then anticipated the third to fire into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
The second was old-school Atalanta, as Rafael Toloi and Josip Ilicic combined down the right, it was rolled across the face of goal and Robin Gosens was there to meet it at the back post.
It was one-way traffic, as Robin Gosens had a strike charged down and on the rebound Duvan Zapata blasted just over the bar, then the Colombian pounced on a Vlad Chiriches howler only to fire straight at Andrea Consigli.
Gomez added the third goal too in another well-worked move. Mario Pasalic’s through ball was laid off by Duvan Zapata for on-rushing Papu Gomez to drill home the angled drive.
Hans Hateboer whipped in a cross from the right and Duvan Zapata snuck up behind Chiriches for the powerful header into the near top corner for 4-0.
Sassuolo were shell-shocked, but finally had a shot on target after 40 minutes, Marco Sportiello palming a Domenico Berardi curler round the post.
Duvan Zapata was sent clear again only to slip at the crucial moment.
Roberto De Zerbi made a double change at the break, introducing Italy Under-20 international Alessandro Tripaldelli for his Serie A debut.
It was certainly an improvement, mainly because Atalanta were preserving energy ahead of the Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Berardi’s curler was palmed away by Sportiello and Sassuolo did get one back with Gregoire Defrel turning quickly to blast into the roof of the net following a poor clearance. It was originally flagged offside, but VAR confirmed he was level and the goal stood.
Moments later, the Neroverdi almost added another, as Alfred Duncan’s long-range shot dipped and swerved just past the far post.
Sportiello was also alert on a Berardi chest and volley from the edge of the box.
Andrea Consigli kept the scoreline down late on with desperate saves on Hans Hateboer from a tight angle and Musa Barrow’s solo run.
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