Atalanta booked their place in the Champions League for a third consecutive season by beating Genoa 4-3 at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Saturday afternoon.
What looked to be an easy day’s work for La Dea turned into a nailbiting finish for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, as they saw a three-goal lead fade away in a chaotic second half, having seen Duvan Zapata, Ruslan Malinovskyi and Robin Gosens give them a comfortable first-half lead.
Eldor Shomurodov scored twice in the second half though, as did Goran Pandev, but Mario Pasalic’s goal after the break was enough to confirm a top-four finish for Atalanta.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Atalanta despite leading 3-0 at half time, and it took some stern words from goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to wake his defenders up after Filippo Melegoni had strolled through on goal from the middle of the pitch, almost punishing his parent club. Ex-Atalanta fan favourite Andrea Masiello then hit the outside of the post.
La Dea did then come to life though and led before the tenth minute. Aleksej Miranchuk was involved before Zapata and Malinovskyi exchanged a one-two to put the Colombian in on goal and he made no mistake in grabbing his 15th Serie A goal of the season.
Duvan’s strength and persistence then earned Atalanta their second. With the ball looking likely to go behind, the No.91 battled and kept it in before squaring to Malinovskyi to tap into an open goal. The strike meant that the Ukrainian continued his good run of form, while his earlier assist had made it ten straight Serie A games in which he has either scored or assisted.
As has come to be expected of Atalanta, the Bergamaschi kept going and got another goal before the break. Malinovskyi was again involved in the build-up, but Hans Hateboer claimed the assist as he headed back across goal for fellow wing-back Gosens to net his 11th of the Serie A season and eighth in 2021.
The goals kept coming after the break, with each side netting within six minutes of the restart through substitutes. Eldor Shomurodov reduced the deficit just moments after coming on, but Atalanta’s own half-time arrival Mario Pasalic restored their three-goal cushion almost immediately.
Genoa again cut the gap to two goals from the penalty spot. Pandev had gone down under a challenge from Cristian Romero and wanted a spot kick. But, while the Grifone’s staff were ordering their players to kick the ball out in order to allow for a VAR check, the Rossoblu played on and eventually won a penalty as a cross was handled by Gosens. Pandev made no mistake, bagging his seventh of the campaign.
Shomurodov got his second of the game to make for a tense end to the afternoon, finishing coolly after Pandev had put him through with some clever play.