In the absence of captain and driving force Papu Gomez, Atalanta’s task was complicated even further with Edin Dzeko’s early opener, but Josip Ilici’s introduction at half time changed the course of the game and the Slovenian was unplayable in his 45 minutes on the pitch.
On a day for early goals, things had barely got going before Roma led. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was afforded time on the left and his low cross evaded Cristian Romero to find Edin Dzeko, who had time to take a touch six yards from goal before finishing with ease.
Pierluigi Gollini, who was the hero in La Dea’s 1-1 draw with Juventus on Wednesday, almost cost them a goal moments later. Ex-Atalanta wing-back Leonardo Spinazzola was through on the left and Gollini had wandered into no man’s land. Spinazzola lifted his effort over the stranded goalkeeper but it clipped the outside of the post on its way wide.
Then Atalanta had the better of the possession but looked lacking in ideas in the final third without Papu Gomez. Ruslan Malinovskyi, Marten de Roon, and Remo Freuler had efforts, but none were of any real concern to Antonio Mirante in the Roma goal.
Josip Ilicic’s introduction for Matteo Pessina injected some more intent into Atalanta’s attacks, and he immediately looked to link with Duvan Zapata.
It was from exactly that combination that the hosts drew level. Remo Freuler was excellent to carry the ball forward before handing over to Malinovskyi. The Ukrainian stumbled in possession but Ilicic was on hand to slot the Colombian forward into the box and he unleashed a fierce first-time shot that thumped in off the crossbar before Mirante had time to react.
Ilicic’s impact didn’t fade. The Slovenian had a curling shot saved well by Mirante before he turned provider again.
The No.72 found a pocket of space on the right, from where he curled in a perfect cross that invited Mirante out of his goal, only to be beaten by a leaping Robin Gosens as the German headed the Nerazzurri in front.
An all-Colombian substitute led to their third. Luis Muriel replaced compatriot Zapata and scored within seconds, just as Mario Pasalic had in this same fixture last season. Intercepting a pass along Roma’s backline, the No.9 bore down on Mirante’s goal, fooled the ‘keeper down with an excellent feinted shot, and tapped into an open goal.
Ilicic got Atalanta’s fourth with the goal he so desperately deserved. After weaving his way past a handful of Giallorossi defenders, he beat Mirante at his near post when it looked more likely that he’d look for the far corner.