Atalanta picked up where they had left off before football’s enforced break by returning to action with an emphatic 4-1 win over Sassuolo at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday evening.
It had been 104 days since they scored four in their last outing against Valencia, and 113 since they hit seven at Lecce in what was their last Serie A match in March. From early on Sunday evening it appeared as though they hadn’t taken any sort of a break in the meantime.
The hosts looked a little rusty early and were lacking their usual slick fluidity in possession, with Duvan Zapata’s touches heavier than they had been in March and Papu Gomez’s footwork not quite as hypnotising.
That was soon shaken off though when Berat Djimsiti poked them into a lead. Gomez whipped in a deep corner from the right that surprise starter Mattia Caldara knocked back into the six-yard box for his central-defensive partner Djimsiti to finish.
Papu thought he had doubled Atalanta’s lead shortly after as he prodded in from close range, but his effort was ruled out after a long check of VAR as the ball brushed Robin Gosens’ fingertips before falling to the captain.
Two of those three were involved for the second that did stand. Papu clipped a ball over the top to the left for Gosens who headed into the centre, from where Zapata tapped in.
Atalanta don’t need any help scoring goals as Europe’s highest scoring team, but Mehdi Bourabia charitably assisted them as he bundled one over the line to make it three. Gosens was again involved on the left and as the ball arrived in the six-yard box the Moroccan turned it over his own line.
Domenico Berardi had two chances to reduce the deficit but couldn’t find a way to beat Pierluigi Gollini.
Ciccio Caputo, who had been denied by Gollini late in the first half, beat the Nerazzurri ‘keeper to the ball at the near post early in the second but didn’t get enough on his effort to direct it at goal.
Gregoire Defrel was later thwarted by Atalanta’s Rapper coi Guanti – Rapper with Gloves – after he had looked to have taken it around the Italian, but the 25-year-old stretched and somehow turned the strike over the crossbar.
It was a familiar combination and source as the Bergamaschi bagged a fourth. Papu teased in a perfect freekick from the left that Duvan rose to meet and head beyond Andrea Consigli.
Sassuolo wanted a penalty after Jose Luis Palomino was accused of both a foul and a handball as Defrel looked to score, but nothing was given after another VAR check.
Bourabia netted a fine freekick in stoppage time to reduce the deficit and repeat the 4-1 scoreline the sides played out in Reggio Emilia in September.