AC Milan and Atalanta shared the points in a tight 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Siro on Friday night, as both proved why they are considered the most feared sides in Serie A since the restart.
The first half saw the teams score all the goals of the night, with Hakan Calhanoglu putting the Rossoneri ahead before Duvan Zapata equalised.
As a result, Atalanta move five points behind Serie A leaders Juventus, who have a game in hand, while Milan now sit a point behind fifth place Roma.
It didn’t take long for Atalanta to make their intentions clear, as Marten De Roon fired a rocket that flashed just wide of the top left corner.
Papu Gomez shot wide from range as well, as the Bergamo outfit looked confident in their approach, with their high-press leaving the Rossoneri with little time to breathe.
However, it was Milan who found the lead via a superb freekick from Calhanoglu, who struck from a tight angle and sent the ball at the far post.
The unexpected lead uplifted the hosts’ spirits, and allowed them to keep the ball for longer periods, forcing Gian Piero Gasperini’s men to relent.
Atalanta were presented with the chance to level when Lucas Biglia fouled Ruslan Malinovskyi. The Ukrainian took responsibility for the penalty but Gianluigi Donnarumma easily denied his attempt down the middle.
It looked like that the missed opportunity would have a lasting effect on La Dea, but a Remo Freuler shot was deflected by Matteo Gabbia into the path of Zapata, who was clinical and shot past Donnarumma after 34 minutes.
La Dea’s Colombian striker had another chance a couple of minutes later, but this time Donnarumma did well to stop his attempt.
After the break, Atalanta looked to control possession, but the Rossoneri proved a compact side despite missing Alessio Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez at the back.
Gasperini wasn’t content with a point as Luis Muriel replacing Malinovskyi before the hour mark.
But it was one of the Rossoneri’s substitutes who went closer to make an impact first. Rafael Leao broke into the opponents’ box to assist Alexis Saelemaekers, who failed to hit the target from close range.
The game remained balanced with both teams looking capable of scoring a winner – Zapata scared Donnarumma with a deflected shot that flashed across the post, but following the resulting corner Milan led a quick counter-attack that ended up with Giacomo Bonaventura sending his attempt from the edge of the box against the post.
The two sides showcased a good physical condition and played at high intensity until the closing stages, attentive not to leave spaces that could have proved costly despite their desire to take all the three points.