Atalanta bounced back after their Champions League last 16 exit to Real Madrid with a 2-0 win at Hellas Verona on Sunday to consolidate fourth place in Serie A. Ruslan Malinovskyi scored the first from the penalty spot after a Federico Dimarco handball on 33 minutes in Verona. Duvan Zapata added a second before the break, after an earlier effort hit the post, the Colombian sweeping the ball past Marco Silvestri into an empty net. Ivan Juric’s side had won the reverse fixture by the same scoreline in Bergamo back in November.
The Verona coach was serving a touchline ban this time and Gian Piero Gasperini surprised with a four-man defence instead of his preferred three.
Zapata spearheaded the Atalanta attack with Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic both starting on the bench before coming on for the final quarter of an hour.
“There are many teams fighting for the Champions League. We’re the underdogs but we’ll battle to the end," said Gasperini.
“We hope there won’t be any problems as happens during the international break and players return fit."
Atalanta are equal on points with third-placed Juventus, who have played two games less and host 16th-placed Benevento later on Sunday.
Both are 10 points adrift of Inter Milan whose game against Sassuolo was postponed because of a Covid-outbreak at the league leaders.
Atalanta are five points ahead of both Napoli and Roma who face each other later on Sunday, while Verona fell to a third successive defeat to stay ninth.