Atalanta’s super-sub Luis Muriel again came off the bench to rescue La Dea from their third scoreless draw of the season with a 90th-minute winner at Cagliari.
Having drawn with Torino, Genoa, and Udinese in recent weeks, La Dea looked set to suffer another disappointing result against a relegation-battling side in Serie A, but the Colombian No.9 added to his incredible record of coming on to score and change the result in the dying minutes at the Sardegna Arena.
Muriel was the match-winner in this same fixture last season, again scoring the only goal of the game, although he was part of the starting XI on that occasion. With Sunday’s result, Atalanta have now won 1-0 on each of their last three Serie A visits to Sardinia.
Atalanta hadn’t even gotten out of their half before Cagliari hit the post. A corner from the left somehow found itself bouncing off Marco Sportiello’s upright, though it was then cleared to danger.
Chances were at a premium in the opening 45 minutes, so much so that neither Sportiello nor Alessio Cragno had a single save to make as there wasn’t a shot on target at either end.
Robin Gosens and Berat Djimsiti had the closest things to chances for La Dea, but the German’s feet got tangled as he prodded wide and the Albanian headed a corner over the crossbar.
Josip Ilicic struggled to free himself of Daniele Rugani’s close marking, while Giovanni Simeone went toe-to-toe with Jose Luis Palomino in what was an interesting Argentine battle at the other end.
The second half continued in just as frustrating a manner for La Dea. Gian Piero Gasperini made a number of changes, but none of his introductions were able to produce anything of note.
Bosko Sutalo had to cover ground at the back to block a Joao Pedro chance for Cagliari, while Duvan Zapata fired a shot off target when he had passing options available to him.
Atalanta looked to turn the screw in the final quarter of an hour. The Casteddu were left clinging on and throwing themselves at the ball to keep their visitors out, and Gosens came ever so close to edging the Bergamaschi in front but had an effort blocked behind.
Luis Muriel found compatriot Zapata late on with a cross that the No.91 came within inches from, though his effort only met the crossbar and couldn’t find its way into Alessio Cragno’s goal.
It was the No.9 who single-handedly settled the game shortly after. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area, he danced his way through two Rossoblu defenders before firing past Cragno.
Cagliari appeared to have been handed a penalty beyond the three added minutes as Daniele Rugani went down under a challenge from Marten de Roon, but the decision was overturned after VAR intervened.