Duvan Zapata and Atalanta Demolish Sassuolo in 5-1 Showdown

After six games without a win in Bergamo, Atalanta registered their second successive success at home as they thrashed Sassuolo 5-1 on Sunday. It was also Atlanta’s fifth successive win in familiar surroundings against the Neroverdi, stretching their undefeated run against them to 12 Serie A meetings.

Goals from Duvan Zapata and Matteo Pessina in the first half set up La Dea for only their fourth win from their last ten Serie A matches. Zapata’s 11th minute opener proved to be a good omen and piled misery on Roberto De Zerbi, whose side were unable to stop Atalanta’s run of five wins from six games in which they have opened the scoring.

However, it was Pessina’s goal from a Josip Ilicic pass that was the game-changer. Sassuolo still harbored ambitions of making a comeback, but the goal on the stroke of half-time subdued them.

The events went from bad to worse in the second half. Zapata’s 49th-minute strike all but sealed the matter, and Robin Gosens’ 57th-minute effort broke the hearts of die-hard Sassuolo fans. Late goals and comebacks have been a theme for Sassuolo, who have scored 16 Italian top-flight goals in away fixtures, eight of them coming beyond the hour mark. But even those fans would have been unwilling to gamble on the Neroverdi changing the game’s outcome.

There was not even a glimmer of hope by the time Sassuolo troubled the scorers through Vlad Chiriches. Luis Muriel had already made it 5-0 thanks to a Zapata assist, and the Romanian defender’s effort was too little too late. The consolation goal made it five successive games for the Neroverdi to have something to show for their efforts.

For Sassuolo, it was the continuation of traditions from Christmas past. Sassuolo have failed to win any of their Serie A outings after the winter break, and the tradition continues into its sixth year. The cards were stacked against the visitors as they conceded first and were not allowed back into the game by Gian Piero Gasperini’s men.

Incidentally, the 5-1 loss was Sassuolo’s first defeat on the road, after going seven games unbeaten this campaign. They had won five and drawn two games in unfamiliar surroundings. However, La Dea were unstoppable in Bergamo and would be kicking themselves for not adding more to their tally.

With the 5-1 drubbing, Sassuolo move out of the top-four. The defeat allowed Atalanta and the chasing pack to gain ground on the Champions League places. La Dea are only a point behind them, and if they do not get their act together in coming games, the slide down will be steep. They have to give a good account of themselves against relegation-threatened Genoa before making the trip to Turin for the Serie A encounter against Juventus.

While De Zerbi has a lot to ponder with, Gasperini will be pleased to get the new calendar year underway in the right manner. The wily tactician has his hands full with issues on and off the pitch. The win that saw Ilicic dictate the tempo and Zapata finishing the game amongst goals and assists shows normalcy is around the corner.

All Gasperini needs now is to solve the pending differences with captain Alejandro Gomez. January will either see Papu reintegrated into the first team fold or sent packing through the exit door. The club have earmarked potential replacements, but for the sake of the fans and in light of Gomez’s efforts for them, it is hoped an amicable resolution is achieved.



January 3, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 15

SCORERS: 11′ Zapata (A), 45′ Pessina (A), 49′ Zapata (A), 57′ Gosens (A), 67′ Muriel (A), 75′ Chiriches (S)

ATALANTA (3-4-1-2): Gollini; Djimsiti (77′ Depaoli), Romero, Palomino; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens (77′ Ruggeri); Pessina (62′ Muriel); Zapata (84′ Miranchuk), Ilicic (62′ Malinovskyi) (Sportiello, Rossi, Caldara, Sutalo, Mojica, Lammers) Coach: Gasperini
SASSUOLO (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Muldur, Chiriches, Ferrari, Kyriakopoulos; M. Lopez (56′ Obiang), Locatelli; Berardi (84′ Haraslin), Traore (84′ Raspadori), Boga (68′ Bourabia); Caputo (56’ Defrel) (Pegolo; Ayhan, Rogerio, Peluso, Toljan, Magnanelli, Schiappacasse) Coach: De Zerbi

REFEREE: Mr. Maresca from Napoli
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Hateboer, Romero, De Roon (A), Chiriches (S)