Fiorentina became the sole Serie A leaders with a comfortable victory over 10-man Atalanta.
The Viola went top of the table following a 4-1 thrashing of Inter and midweek beat Belenenses 4-0 in the Europa League, so confidence was sky high. Marko Bakic, Gilberto and Manuel Pasqual missed out, but Nikola Kalinic was fresh from a hat-trick at San Siro. Atalanta were also doing very well this season, but Mauricio Pinilla and Marcelo Estigarribia were injured.
History wasn’t kind to the Orobici, who had just six draws since their last victory here in January 1993.
It was a dramatic start, as after five minutes Jakub Blaszczykowski burst into the box and seemed to be wrestled to the ground by Alejandro Gomez. The referee awarded a penalty and flashed the red card at Gabriel Paletta, which seemed harsh as Gomez essentially barged Kuba into Paletta’s thigh.
Josip Ilicic converted the penalty by sending Marco Sportiello the wrong way and put Fiorentina in front.
Fiorentina kept pushing and Borja Valero’s snapshot was palmed on to the upright, then as the move continued Milan Badelj drilled inches wide.
Despite being down to 10 men, Atalanta almost scored on the counter after 25 minutes, but Ciprian Tatarusanu came tearing off his line to charge down Maxi Moralez’s shot with his stomach.
The hosts did double their lead when Borja Valero completed a quick give-and-go with Federico Bernardeschi to spring the offside trap and clinically finish one-on-one with Marco Sportiello.
Blaszczykowski’s strike was beaten away with some difficulty, while Fiorentina had more strong penalty appeals for a Rafael Toloi challenge on Ilicic.
The Slovenian curled one of his trademark free kicks just wide and Kalinic’s solo run was deflected over. Marcos Alonso hit a fierce effort at the near post, forcing another Sportiello save.
Verdu added a third with his debut Serie A goal, as Kalinic flicked up a pass for the Spaniard to volley into the far bottom corner with the inside of his right foot.
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Sent off: Paletta 5 (A)