A stellar Atalanta delivered Torino the worst home humiliation in their history. Gian Piero Gasperini’s Bergamaschi were literally unstoppable at the Grande Torino Stadium on Saturday, led by Josep Ilicic in full berserk mode. The Slovenian tallied three goals, including a formidable one scored from the midfield line. Additional goals by Robin Gosens, Duvan Zapata, and a double by Luis Muriel set the score at 7-0 for the visitor Nerazzurri.
Now boasting 38 points, Atalanta reached the fourth place in the Serie A table alongside Roma. For Torino and coach Walter Mazzarri it was an authentic nightmare. The Granata closed the game with nine men only after the expulsion of Armando Izzo and Sasa Lukic. President Urbano Cairo confirmed his trust in Mazzarri for the time being, but a long meeting between his management and himself is rumored to have happened in the night. The hit was surely a hard one.
Andrea Belotti’s counterattack after 10 minutes was just an early delusion for the Toro, as Il Gallo was stopped by a Robins Gosens’ clearance. Belotti was among the first to apologize to his supporters after the setback: “Something humiliating has happened, which really hit me at a personal level. This is the worst defeat in my career.” The Gallo had nothing to complain about the training camp imposed from the club at full time: “This training camp will be helpful because it will give us the chance to vent, confront each other, and restart from scratch.”
There seems to be an urgent need for that, as the rest of the game was a devastating monologue on the part of the Bergamaschi – which surely were in a state of grace, but also mercilessly took advantage of the limits shown by Torino. In such a scenario, Atalanta’s triple lead at half time was just an expectable consequence.
Mazzarri’s lineup, in all fairness, was an emergency one with Soualiho Meïté, Diego Laxalt, and Alex Berenguer out of their natural position as the Tuscany coach had no midfield changes to spare. Atalanta twisted their knives in the wound and quickly went up 2-0 thanks to a couple of defensive blunders. Josip Ilicic drew first blood in the 17th minute as he finished from a pass by José Luis Palomino after the Spaniard had won a tackle with Laxalt.
Palomino had already scared goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu with a header one minute earlier. Torino’s goalie did what he could to delay the inevitable, also saving from Robins Gosens in the 22nd minute, but couldn’t do anything when Berenguer’s mistake in the midfield offered the Bergamaschi another easy chance. Sirigu pushed back Remo Freuler’s first attempt but had to raise the white flag on Gosens’ tap-in.
Just one minute before half time, Atalanta made it three from the penalty spot. Sasa Lukic pushed down Josip Ilicic in the box and Duvan Zapata easily converted.
The trend didn’t change at all after the break. Eight minutes into the second half, Josip Ilicic found an astonishing free-kick conversion directly from the midfield line. Referee Marco Guida saw a handball by Koffi Djidji, Atalanta’s number 72 noticed that Salvatore Sirigu was far from his posts and showed no mercy – repeating a feat once achieved by Alvaro Recoba in a famous Empoli-Inter game or, more recently, by Giuseppe Mascara in a Sicilian Derby Palermo-Catania.
The hammering continued two minutes later, as Ilicic wrapped his hat-trick at the end of a combination with Alejandro Gomez. El Papu even spared Torino as he saw a shot of his pushed back by Sirigu’s post, but when Alessandro Izzo saw yellow for the second time and left his side with one man less, the Granata definitively collapsed. Luis Muriel scored the sixth from the penalty spot and then made it seven from an assist by Gomez.
Torino lost their head as Lukic earned a direct expulsion for a violent tackle on Gomez, and referee Guida was kind enough to at least add no stoppage time, drawing a veil over Walter Mazzarri’s side’s dismal performance. For Atalanta and their magician Gian Piero Gasperini (57 goals scored in the league so far!), it’s just a matter of understanding how far can they go, both domestically and internationally. Valencia – which they will face in the Champions League Round of 16 – are warned…
January 26, 2020 – Serie A 2019-2020 Round 21
SCORERS: 17’ Ilicic, 29’ Gosens, 45’ Zapata (pen.), 53’ Ilicic, 55’ Ilicic, 86’ Muriel (pen.), 88’ Muriel
|TORINO (3-4-2-1): Sirigu; Izzo, Nkoulou, Djidji; De Silvestri, Lukic, Meité, Laxalt (65′ Millico); Berenguer (77′ Lyanco), Verdi (79′ Edera); Belotti (Ujkani, Rosati, Falquè, Singo, Bremer, Adopo) Coach: Mazzarri|
|ATALANTA (3-4-1-2): Gollini; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, De Roon (58′ Pasalic), Freuler, Gosens (83′ Muriel); Gomez; Ilicic (72′ Malinovskyi), Zapata (Rossi, Sportiello, Caldara, Piccoli, Da Riva, Okoli) Coach: Gasperini|
REFEREE: Mr. Guida from Torre Annunziata
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Sirigu (T), De Roon, Hateboer (A); Red Cards: Izzo, Lukic (T); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 0′