Atalanta’s European hopes suffered a blow as they scraped a 1-1 draw with Sassuolo, wasting numerous chances and gifting the goal.
The Orobici recovered admirably from the 7-1 shocker against Inter and remained in fifth place, fighting for European qualification and fresh from a 5-0 drubbing of Genoa. Franck Kessie was suspended, so Remo Freuler and Bryan Cristante started in midfield. Sassuolo were in a similar position last season, but getting into Europe proved costly for fitness levels. Francesco Magnanelli and Davide Biondini were unavailable.
Papu Gomez got a hat-trick last week and almost added another within five minutes, but he robbed Claud Adjapong to curl inches past the far top corner. The little Argentine then ran on to an Andrea Conti through ball, dummied Cristian Dell’Orco and thumped the upright from close range.
A deflected Domenico Berardi free kick was palmed out from under the bar, while a Lorenzo Pellegrini nutmeg through ball was just beyond Gregoire Defrel and Leonardo Spinazzola’s last-ditch tackle was decisive on a Defrel counter.
Defrel sustained an injury and had to make way for Matteo Politano and Sassuolo took the lead thanks to a howler from Mattia Caldara. The defender, who has been bought by Juventus for 2018, was caught in possession, allowing Pellegrini to sprint forward and dribble round Etrit Berisha.
Atalanta seemed frustrated, especially when Cristante’s cross went past both Petagna and Conti. Spinazzola went off with a muscular problem and Andrea Masiello had penalty appeals when he couldn’t get his head to a corner at the back post because his shirt was pulled.
Sassuolo were increasingly pinned back into their own half, but remained very dangerous on the counter-attack and Antonino Ragusa missed a sitter. He sprung the offside trap on an Alfred Duncan through ball and was too hasty, firing wide from just inside the box with only Berisha to beat.
Atalanta finally did break through for the equaliser when Papu Gomez whipped in a free kick from the left and Bryan Cristante got his head to it from seven yards.
It was almost 2-1 to the hosts 30 seconds later, as Gomez’s cross found Alberto Grassi for a scuffed volley, forcing a desperate fingertip save out of Andrea Consigli.
The goalkeeper got down very quickly to palm a Caldara finish round the post from point-blank range, but there was even worse news for Atalanta – Papu Gomez was booked and will be suspended next week against Roma.
It was frenetic in the final 15 minutes, as both sides pushed for a winner. Petagna’s glancing header came off Anthony Mounier’s knee at the far post and into the grateful arms of Consigli.
In stoppages Grassi's acrobatic volley into the ground bounced straight at Consigli, as the Bergamo boys couldn't find a path to victory.
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