Atalanta Overcome Crotone to Break Two-Game Losing Streak

Atalanta re-acquainted themselves with the three points in Serie A as they broke their two-game losing streak with a comfortable with at the Ezio Scida Stadium in Crotone. Today, it was up to Luis Muriel to get the job done for the Bergamaschi with a first-half brace, before Simy Nwankwo would vainly reduce the deficit for the home Rossoblu.

Crotone came up with a good start and gave the impression they could grab the equalizer at any time but paid for the lack of concreteness in the final third on the part of their strikers Simy and Junior Messias. Giovanni Stroppa and his side will need to come up with something more if they want to survive in the dogfight to avoid relegation. With today’s loss, the Pitagorici score reads only one point out of six games and that’s a big red flag.

For Atalanta, Gian Piero Gasperini gave some rest to Duvan Zapata – who had saved Atalanta’s day in their Champions League game with Ajax – and deployed Luis Muriel in his place, with Alejandro Gomez and Ruslan Malinovskyi to support him. With Robin Gosens out due to an injury, Gasperini chose Johan Mojica to cover the left flank.

Crotone were without Luca Cigarini who was serving a one-match ban and Salvatore Molina who tested positive for coronavirus. They were replaced by U-21 Azzurro Niccolò Zanellato and Milos Vulic. Simy Nwankwo and Junior Messias were confirmed as the attacking pair by coach Giovanni Stroppa.

The Bergamaschi‘s start was aggressive: Rafael Toloi served a great pass in the channel for Luis Muriel but the Colombian’s shot ended out of target. Crotone’s immediate reply was a powerful progression from Atalanta-owned Arkadiusz Reca, whose effort from out of the box also failed to hit the mark.

Soon enough it was Atalanta again to attack: Ruslan Malinovskyi picked a brilliant pass for Muriel, but La Dea‘s number 9 was denied by Alex Cordaz in such a good way that Muriel himself went to compliment the goalkeeper.

Muriel was the most active among the Nerazzurri lines. Crotone defended themselves with order and tried to fast break, resorting to Ahmad Benali’s creativity in the middle of the park, but ultimately had to concede the first in the 25th minute: Another good combination between Malinovskyi and Muriel set the Colombian free to shot, leaving no chance to Cordaz.

Atalanta didn’t have enough and, four minutes later, Cordaz had to deny Alejandro Gomez from point-blank range as the Argentine tried to make the best out of a Johan Mojica cross from the left side. The Crotone goalie and captain used his right foot to deny Muriel in the 37th minute with Atalanta now fully in control. One minute later the Colombian deservedly had his second as he finished for the best a Remo Freuler service.

Out of nowhere, however, came Crotone’s first goal immediately after, with Simy Nwankwo being the fastest to resolve a confused exchange into the Bergamaschi‘s box as he slotted the ball past Marco Sportiello.

There was still life in the Pitagorici. Gasperini understood that and showed that he wanted to wrap the game early as he came up with a double change at half time, sending in Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic for brace-scorer Muriel and Gomez.

A duel between Niccolò Zanellato of Crotone and Ruslan Malinovskyi of Atalanta

The second half continued to follow the same pattern, with Atalanta pegging the opposition into their own half and Crotone seeming to wait for the right chance to counterattack. When they did manage to do so, however, Junior Messias squandered his chance as he whipped the ball dreadfully out of target instead of serving Simy.

The Brazilian was still the one to come closer to draw level in the 63rd minute, when Johan Mojica unexpectedly lost the ball to him. Messias dribbled the goalkeeper but Remo Freuler came to the rescue and managed to prevent him from slotting the ball home with some brilliant defensive coverage.

But more that from Crotone, Gian Piero Gasperini’s troubles came from the injuries of Hans Hateboer and Cristian Romero – both players needing to leave the pitch before full time and now in doubt for next Tuesday’s Champions League show against Liverpool.

In the 71th minute, Alex Cordaz stole the spotlight again as he pushed back a Ruslan Malinovskyi challenge, with the Ukrainian failing to make the best out of Josip Ilicic’s long-range cross. Duvan Zapata, on the other hand, appeared quite out of the action today and his conclusions in the 81st minute and in the 84th minute were unworthy of his goal-scorer fame.

Crotone became more courageous in the latest stages of the match but Atalanta were able to control them quite comfortably. One or two months ago, they would have gone for the kill earlier in the game but considering they will have to face Liverpool in just three days, making a full score was all that mattered today. So it’s mission accomplished for Gasperini and his boys.



October 31, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 6

SCORERS: 26’ Muriel (A), 38’ Muriel (A), 40’ Simy (C)

CROTONE (3-5-2): Cordaz; Magallan, Marrone, Luperto; Pereira P. (78′ Rispoli), Zanellato (79′ Siligardi), Benali, Vulic, Reca; Simy, Messias (Festa, Cuomo, Golemic, Crociata, Rojas, Crespi, Petricione, Eduardo) Coach: Stroppa
ATALANTA (3-4-2-1): Sportiello; Toloi, Romero (73′ Palomino), Djimsiti; Hateboer (69′ Sutalo), Freuler, Pasalic Mojica; Gomez (46′ Ilicic), Malinovskyi (89′ Pessina); Muriel (47′ Zapata) (Gollini, Rossi, Lammers, Depaoli,Miranchuk, Diallo) Coach: Gasperini

REFEREE: Mr. Dionisi from L’Aquila
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Marrone (C), Hateboer, Toloi, Romero (A); Red Card: Stroppa (C); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′; 2nd Half 4′

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