Atalanta put on another masterclass by thrashing Cagliari 5-2, and it would’ve been more if not for Alessio Cragno, maintaining their perfect start.
La Dea have a 100 per cent record and made their first appearance of the season in Bergamo, where the Gewiss Stadium was refurbished to allow for Champions League games. Rafael Toloi, Aleksei Miranchuk, Matteo Pessina, Cristiano Piccini and Pierluigi Gollini were out of action, while the Sardinians gave Diego Godin his debut after the move from Inter.
Luis Muriel sprinted clear on a Jose Luis Palomino through ball to score after seven minutes, but the offside flag was raised. As per protocol, the linesman and referee waited until the move had completed so VAR could check that the Colombian was not offside and the goal was given.
Riccardo Sottil threatened an identical goal at the other end, but Palomino was just as important when defending, sprinting back to get the last-ditch tackle.
Muriel’s header was over, while Marten de Roon’s rocket rattled the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area. However, just as Cagliari seemed to be under siege, they got the equaliser with debutant Godin’s glancing header from six yards on a corner.
After an interminable series of passes, Atalanta restored their lead with a moment of Papu Gomez magic, curling right-footed into the far bottom corner from over 20 metres out with remarkable precision, bouncing just in front of Alessio Cragno. It was his fourth goal in the first three games.
The next goal was pure Atalanta, a series of quick one-touch passes to slice the Sardinian defence apart, finished by Robin Gosens laying it off at the by-line for Mario Pasalic to simply steer into the net from six yards with the inside of the boot.
Duvan Zapata was a little more direct with his goal just before half-time, cutting inside down the left flank past Godin to fire in off the inside of the far post with his right from a tricky angle.
Cragno kept the scoreline down with an extraordinary double save on Duvan Zapata and the Muriel follow-up from point-blank range, then on the resulting corner got down to claw Cristian Romero’s header off the line with one hand.
Moments later, Cagliari got back into the game for 4-2, Joao Pedro sliding in to meet a Lykogiannis low cross from the left, steering it in from a tight angle.
That woke the Sardinians up and Giovanni Simeone fired off target when sent through by Riccardo Sottil, though Cragno again had to rush off his line to smother at Duvan Zapata’s feet.
It turned into an end-to-end game with constant counter-attacks, Ruslan Malinovskyi forcing another save from Cragno, and eventually Sam Lammers got his debut Serie A strike. The Belgian dribbled into the box down the right, shimmied past Lykogiannis with some stepovers and threaded a right-foot angled drive into the far bottom corner.
Cragno flew to get his gloves to a Malinovskyi rocket, preventing a sixth goal, then the Ukraine international tripped over after excellent build-up play with Pasalic.
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