Atalanta were quick out of the starting blocks in this season’s Champions League as they got their European campaign underway with a 4-0 win away to Midtjylland.
The conditions made for a cagey first few minutes as a downpour made the surface tricky to negotiate for both sides, but it was the Bergamaschi who ultimately made the most of them.
The Danes did enjoy a brief period of dominance in the opening ten or so minutes but they never forced Marco Sportiello into action, which Atalanta soon made them pay for.
Duvan Zapata had threatened twice by hitting the post and forcing a save from Jesper Hansen while Robin Gosens had fired an effort narrowly wide before Atalanta opened the scoring. It was the Colombian who got the game’s first goal and, just as he had last season, scored La Dea’s first in the competition for the campaign. A cross from the right found Cristian Romero who nodded into the forward’s path, allowing him to set himself before finishing past Hansen.
Papu Gomez got Atalanta’s second in stunning fashion. Marten de Roon broke down a Midtjylland move on the halfway line to set the Italians forward. After a series of passes, Zapata teed up his captain who, from 25 yards, took a touch and rifled a shot in off the underside of the crossbar.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side aren’t known for sitting back though and they continued in their search for goals. The didn’t have long to wait before another South American was celebrating a third.
Another well-worked move ended with Gosens setting up Zapata for a shot and his effort was parried into the path of his countryman Luis Muriel, who tapped in from close range to extend the Nerazzurri’s lead.
Three should have become four before the break as Remo Freuler passed up a huge opportunity. The Swiss dispossessed Jens Cajuste on the edge of the Danes’ area as they looked to play out from the back but, trying to round Hansen, he had his shot stopped by the goalkeeper.
The second half was considerably slowed than the first, with the hosts engaging in some damage limitation and Atalanta looking to use their advantage to make some changes.
Josip Ilicic was brought on to continue his comeback after making his return at Napoli on Saturday, while Mario Pasalic was also introduced as Luis Muriel and Papu Gomez were let rest.
Zapata sent a wayward effort over the crossbar before Pasalic almost had an immediate impact. Put through by Romero, the Croatian skipped into the area past a defender but could only shoot straight at Hansen.
The two substitutes combined shortly after as Ilicic got through. On the end of a one-two, the Slovenian almost opened his account for 2020/21 but Hansen turned his shot onto the upright and wide.
Aleksej Miranchuk also joined Ilicic in coming off the bench for what was his debut for the club and he marked the occasion with a fine fourth. Found by the Slovenian on the edge of the area, the Russian took a touch before curling an inch-perfect left-footed strike into Hansen’s top corner.