Atalanta grabbed a crucial win away to Cesena thanks to an own goal and the heroics of Andrea Consigli, even after German Denis was sent off.
The heat was on in this relegation dogfight, as Atalanta were coming off three consecutive defeats after their great start to the season dissipated. Cesena still felt the sting of last week’s 5-1 demolition at the hands of Roma and had lost four of their last five games, while they missed Djokovic, Abdel Ghezzal, Dominique Malonga, Massimo Lauro and Nicola Ravaglia. Guglielmo Stendardo made his Orobici debut, but Francesco Antonioli marked his 400th Serie A appearance.
Andrea Consigli flew to fingertip a Marco Parolo blockbuster out from under the crossbar in the opening nine minutes. Adrian Mutu pounced on a defensive error to set up Roberto Guana, whose effort was deflected on to the side-netting from six yards off Stendardo.
German Denis was booked for simulation when he fell over Steve Von Bergen and will be suspended for Wednesday’s game with Genoa.
Mutu wasted a good chance when his first touch let him down, though he did better moments later to pounce on a defensive error and force Consigli’s flying one-handed save.
Yet Atalanta thought they had taken the lead on 38 minutes when Stefano Lucchini was totally unmarked, but the defender turned inches over the bar. Maxi Moralez also wasted a golden opportunity by nodding wide from a wonderful Denis cross.
Antonioli punched out an Ezequiel Schelotto snapshot, but Cesena shot themselves in the foot. A Schelotto cross from the right was going nowhere in particular until Marco Rossi at full stretch tried to intercept, effectively prodding it past his own goalkeeper at the near post.
Atalanta went down to 10 men, as Denis harshly received a second yellow card for a handling offence in the box. However, Consigli was keeping them in the game with an amazing double reaction save on Martinez from point-blank range, using cat-like reflexes.
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Sent off: Denis 79 (A)