A ferocious second-half fightback by Atalanta means they now sit six points up in the race for fourth as they snatched a 2-1 victory over Roma on Saturday.
The head-to-head encounter for a place in the Champions League saw the Giallorossi draw first blood when Edin Dzeko fired them ahead just before half-time after some poor defending by Jose Luis Palomino.
However the Argentine and La Dea made up for it with a dominant performance after the restart, as he levelled the score five minutes after the break before substitute Mario Pasalic curled in a wondrous shot with his first touch of the ball to put the home side ahead.
The one-two punch was too much for Roma to handle as they ran out of gas and slumped to a third straight defeat in Serie A. Perhaps more worrisome for coach Paulo Fonseca, they now sit six points back of Atalanta in the race for fourth.
Pau Lopez was forced off his line to deny an onrushing Papu Gomez one-on-one, with the Atalanta man likely wishing he would have done more.
Hans Hataboer responded for the home side and looked set to open the scoring from six yards out, only to slip at the wrong moment.
Atalanta continued to push forward with Josip Ilicic firing wide of the near post and Rafael Toloi attempting an audacious overhead kick that skimmed the upright.
However it was Roma who opened the scoring out of seemingly nothing on the brink of half-time. Palomino couldn’t control a poor Hataboer back-pass and it let Dzeko in.
The Bosnian surged forward with the Atalanta defender on him, but he kept his cool to slot home into the far bottom corner to make it 1-0 for the away side.
Luckily for Palomino he got his redemption just five minutes after the restart. A Papu Gomez corner was flicked on by Berat Djimsiti at the near post, allowing the Argentine to volley home at full stretch.
From there Atalanta continued their assault and Roma couldn’t muster up much in terms of a response. Federico Fazio was forced to clear off the line after Hataboer got on the end of a Robin Gosens cross, and it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before La Dea took the lead.
That came to fruition in the 60th minute when Pasalic fired home a stunning curled effort with practically his first touch of the game.
The Croatian came on in place of Duvan Zapata, and after Gosens did well to control a throw-in, he controlled the ball before curling a picture-perfect shot into the far top corner.
Roma were left stunned by the turn of events, as they struggled to muster any sort of reaction against Gian Piero Gasperini’s men.
The only real opportunity fell to Dzeko in the closing minutes when Lorenzo Pellegrini rolled a ball back for the striker, but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet. It was rendered a moot point regardless as the Italian was deemed offside.
From there the final minutes ran out with Atalanta comfortably in control and Roma unable to muster any sort of fightback – the result putting La Dea in control of the race for fourth.