STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome) – Atalanta took a huge step towards Champions League qualification with a stunning 3-1 win over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
Marco Parolo gave the home side an early lead as they looked to boost their own hopes of a top four finish, but the visitors responded through goals from Duvan Zapata and Timothy Castagne and a Wallace own goal.
The result leaves Atalanta in fourth place on 62 points, just one point behind Inter in third with three rounds remaining.
Parolo put Lazio in front with just three minutes on the clock, taking Felipe Caicedo’s lay-off in his stride to direct an angled finish into the bottom corner.
Immobile was denied by a diving Pierluigi Gollini and Zapata scuffed a good chance to equalise on the half-volley, but the Colombian made up for his error on the 22nd minute when a Lazio clearance was volleyed back into the striker’s path by Remo Freuler.
Zapata reacted quickly, turning and slotting a shot into the corner to mark his 22nd league goal of the season; the most any Atalanta player has scored in a single Serie A season since Filippo Inzaghi in 1996/97.
Josip Ilicic could’ve given his side the lead just five minutes later when he latched onto a wonderful through ball, but he flashed his finish wide of the far post from a good position.
Thomas Strakosha was called into action almost as soon as the second half kicked off, superbly denying Ilicic’s close-range effort with a one-handed parry.
The visitors were gifted the lead just before the hour mark when Wallace’s pass was intercepted by Papu Gomez, who was forced wide and pulled a pass back which missed the onrushing Freuler but was dispatched into an unguarded net by Castagne.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side made it three with 15 minutes remaining when Wallace headed into his own net from a Gomez corner from close range as heavy rain drenched the Olimpico turf.
Time up for Wallace
Is this Wallace’s last game for Lazio? We will see, but the error-prone Brazilian’s own fans have turned against him after his latest error.
The defender has never been far from his next clanger, but this was a costly one, which no doubt reminded many of the home fans of his equally calamitous gaffe in the Rome derby in December 2016.
His slack pass was pounced on by Gomez and punished clinically, leading to loud boos from the home crowd every time he touched the ball, before he headed Atalanta’s third into his own net.
It once again raised the question of why he was starting in the first place, with Luiz Felipe having impressed there in recent wins over Inter and Milan at San Siro.
Atalanta in driving seat
Can they complete the fairy tale? This result was a massive moment in Atalanta’s quest for Champions League football as they pulled four points clear of Roma, who face Genoa later.
But La Dea now have Inter in their sights too, as the Nerazzurri’s draw against Udinese on Saturday has left them just one point ahead of the Bergamo side.
With three rounds to go and games against Genoa, Juventus and Sassuolo to come, it is all in their hands.