Atalanta vs Milan 2-3: Nerazzurri Storm Back After Going Down by Three

Milan beat Atalanta 3-2 in the last game of Serie A Round 7, answering to Napoli to retain their second spot in the table. However, Stefano Pioli will have something to say to his boys about their late loss of concentration.

For 85 minutes, the Rossoneri played the perfect game, climbing to a 3-0 lead and taking advantage of every single flaw displayed by Gian Piero Gasperini’s Bergamaschi. But then, Atalanta offered another sample of their never-say-never attitude, reducing the gap to one goal only with a Duvan Zapata penalty and a stoppage time Mario Pasalic goal.

All in all, Milan could be happy with snatching three points out of a direct Scudetto contender’s hands, while Atalanta will have some regrets as the first two Rossoneri goals were gift-wrapped by two individual mistakes.

Gian Piero Gasperini confirmed 9 out of the 11 players that tied with Inter one week ago. Rafael Toloi and Robin Gosens had some physical problems and were replaced by Berat Djimsiti and Joakim Maehle respectively. On the front line, the Atalanta coach confirmed Matteo Pessina and Ruslan Malinovskyi behind Duvan Zapata.

For Milan, Stefano Pioli recovered Simon Kjaer as central defender, which resulted in captain Alessio Romagnoli being sidelined again. After his recent disappointing performances, Franck Kessié was rumored to be starting from the bench. In the end, the Ivorian maintained his spot in the middle of the park.

With neither birthday boy Zlatan Ibrahimovic nor Olivier Giroud fully recovered, it was still up to Ante Rebic to play in the center forward role in Pioli’s 4-2-3-1.

Milan’s start was stellar as the Rossoneri drew first blood at the very get-go. Theo Hernandez moved to the center of the pitch and served a perfectly-timed pass to Davide Calabria that caught the Atalanta defensive line by surprise. The Milan right back’s first shot crashed into Juan Musso, but Calabria was quick to tap the ball in to open the scoring after just 28 seconds.

Atalanta’s furious reaction resulted in Duvan Zapata nutmegging Kjaer and firing a shot that found Mike Maignan’s prompt save. From Ruslan Malinovskyi’s subsequent tap-in attempt, Sandro Tonali produced himself in a clearance that was worth a goal.  

La Dea‘s pressure didn’t stop and it was soon time for Maignan to steal the stage. The French goalkeeper kept his side afloat with two key interventions. First, he sprung to his right to palm away a tricky Davide Zappacosta effort. From the subsequent corner kick, he resorted to his reflexes to parry back a Zapata header from point blank range.

The Bergamaschi had to take a break on 24 minutes as Matteo Pessina picked up an injury and left the pitch for Giuseppe Pezzella. That somehow slowed down the match tempo after a frenetic first part of the game.

Atalanta surely did more to equalize than Milan to score the second, but the Rossoneri made it two right before the break taking advantage of a macroscopic blunder from Remo Freuler. The Swiss midfielder was too careless as he received a pass from his goalkeeper and let Tonali snatch the ball out of his feet. For the former Brescia starlet, it was child’s play to go one-on-one with Juan Musso and beat him.

After the restart, Gian Piero Gasperini sent in Dutchman Teun Koopmeiners. He then added the heavy weaponry with Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic on 56 minutes.

However, it was Milan to make themselves dangerous again as a Rebic magic trick produced a cross that found Alexis Saelemaekers’ header in the middle of the box. Musso had to go above and beyond to defuse the Belgian winger’s challenge.

After Junior Messias made his seasonal debut, replacing Brahim Diaz, Milan found the back of the net again on 79 minutes. The Rossoneri‘s third originated from a textbook counterattack, with Milan recovering the ball in their defensive third and propelling Theo Hernandez’s terrific progression across the pitch. The Frenchman’s service for Rafael Leao only asked to be pushed into the back of the net – which the Portuguese did with a fine lob.

Atalanta reduced the gap on 86 minutes as Messias’ first contribution to the game was a handball in the box that sent Duvan Zapata to the penalty spot after a VAR review. The Colombian made no mistake, thus netting his 99th Serie A goal. 

It seemed the famous goal della bandiera for Atalanta, but the Nerazzurri had no intention to give up. They kept attacking well into stoppage time, when Zapata won a tackle with Messias and sent the ball in for substitute Mario Pasalic, who had all the time in the world to slot it home for a thrilling final.

Milan took home all three points on offer but one may wonder how would have the game ended if there were a few more minutes left to play…



October 3, 2021 – Serie A 2021-22 Round 7

SCORERS: 1′ Calabria (M), 42′ Tonali (M), 79′ Rafael Leao (M), 86′ Zapata (A, pen.), 93′ Pasalic (A)

ATALANTA (3-4-1-2): Musso; Djimsiti, Demiral (46′ Koopmeiners), Palomino; Zappacosta, De Roon, Freuler (88′ Pasalic), Maehle (56′ Muriel); Pessina (24′ Pezzella); Malinovskyi (56′ Ilicic), Zapata. (Sportiello, Rossi, Lovato, Miranchuk, Piccoli, Scalvini) Coach: Gasperini
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez (80′  Ballo-Touré); Kessié, Tonali (80′ Bennacer); Saelemaekers, Brahim Diaz (73′ Messias), Rafael Leao (89′ Pellegri); Rebic (Tatarusanu, Jungdal, Castillejo, Gabbia, Giroud, Kalulu, Maldini, Romagnoli) Coach: Pioli

REFEREE: Mr. Di Bello from Brindisi
NOTES: Yellow Cards: De Roon (A), Brahim Diaz, Tomori, Messias, Rafael Leao (M) ; Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 4′