Atalanta absolutely dominated the Lombardy Derby with a Mario Pasalic brace and Josip Ilicic counter, although Mario Balotelli did hit the crossbar for Brescia.
Balotelli returned to the starting XI after he was dropped due to a training ground row with coach Fabio Grosso, but Daniele Dessena was still on the treatment table. Atalanta were fresh from their first Champions League win midweek, but Duvan Zapata and Simon Kjaer were injured, with Rafael Toloi suspended.
These two teams are divided by a bitter rivalry and this was the first Serie A encounter since April 2005, while they hadn’t met at all since 2006 in Serie B.
The visitors dominated early doors with three chances in the first five minutes, as Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic fired over, with Papu Gomez’s attempt deflected wide after he was sent clear by Ilicic.
Jesse Joronen acrobatically fingertipped a Muriel volley out from under the bar on a corner, while Mario Pasalic saw his finish deflected after a great team move that saw Gomez’s dummy let a Muriel pass through.
Atalanta inevitably broke through after dominating for 26 minutes with 72 per cent possession, as Timothy Castagne floated a ball across from the right and Pasalic peeled away from two defenders for a free header at the back post.
Brescia finally created a chance on 38 minutes with a cross whipped in from the left, but Romulo took it off the head of Ernesto Torregrossa and nodded wide.
It was a brief respite, as Pasalic’s header from a corner looped up and bounced off the inside of the far post. Joronen also captured a trademark Ilicic left-foot curler and smothered another strike.
The hosts really should’ve scored on 55 minutes with a rapid counter-attack, but Balotelli in acres of space blasted his finish on to the crossbar from 12 yards, then Romulo turned the rebound over.
Just as Brescia were pushing, Atalanta doubled their lead with another moment of class. Ilicic on yet another corner rolled into the six-yard box and Pasalic turned in facing away from goal with a cheeky back-heel flick.
Balotelli did force a tricky Pierluigi Gollini save with his daisy-cutter, but Ruslan Malinovskyi turned two defenders in the D to get his strike away, smacking the base of the far post.
In stoppages, Ilicic put the icing on the cake when Brescia made a mistake from their corner, allowing the Slovenian to sprint forward by himself and score one-on-one with Joronen.
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