Perhaps it was due to the post-Champions League euphoria or to the fact that they were simply tired, but Gian Piero Gasperini must be scratching his head at how his Atalanta conceded a 0-2 loss to Verona in Serie A Round 9.
The Bergamaschi side seemed to dominate the first half but failed to convert their predominance and were hit twice in the second period by Miguel Veloso and Mattia Zaccagni. Atalanta collected only two points out their last three campionato games. After their stellar start of the season, they seem to be starting to pay a toll for their back-to-back domestic and international tests.
Verona, on the other hand, managed to recover fast from their setback from one week ago. Tonight’s win put them sixth in the table, five point behind top-ranked Milan and with a good view on the Europa League qualifications slots. Nikola Juric’s side was cynical and concrete, and didn’t get discouraged even when they lost one man after just 30 minutes of play.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s band was coming from a magical Champions League night at Alfield which saw La Dea toppling Liverpool 0-2 at home. There was no time to rest, however, as the coach confirmed 8 out of the 11 men who had played in Champions earlier in the week. Duvan Zapata re-took his spot on the front-line, supported by Josip Ilicic and Alejandro Gomez.
José Palomino replaced Cristian Romero in the middle of the defense, while Johan Mojica covered the left flank due to Robin Gosens’ injury-induced absence.
For Verona, Nikola Juric was missing center-forward Nikola Kalinic, who was replaced by Samuel Di Carmine. Comparing to last week’s home game, he recovered Davide Faraoni as right wing-back and Matteo Lovato in the middle of the defense – though Lovato’s match would last only 30 minutes as a knee injury forced him to leave the pitch early in the game.
After 15 minutes that mostly lacked emotions, Atalanta had the first real chance of the game as Alejandro Gomez recovered the ball in midfield and triggered a counterattack that ended with Josip Ilicic’s drive shot crashing above the bar.
Remo Freuler tried to break the balance with a spectacular right foot volley but his aim was not accurate enough either. The next one to try his luck was Johan Mojica, who achieved the same outcome.
Andrea Danzi replaced Lovato around the 30-minute mark and had a rough start as Alejandro Gomez easily dribbled past him to challenge Verona’s keeper Marco Silvestri for the first time. In the 40th minute, Silvestri had to leave the goal fast to anticipate Duvan Zapata, who was just about to catch a long-range cross from Ilicic.
At half time, it was still 0-0 with Verona managing to keep La Dea at bay but producing zero scoring chances on their part.
Andrea Danzi’s game lasted only 15 minutes as Nikola Juric substituted him with Miguel Veloso after the half time break. We don’t know what Verona’s coach had in mind, but that surely proved to be a winning move.
The game seemed to follow the same trend with the Bergamaschi continuing to be in charge of the operations: Duvan Zapata gave path to Rafael Toloi, who prompted a good parry on the part of Silvestri. But then, out of nowhere, Verona came up with the most dangerous chance so far as Miguel Veloso hit the crossbar with a long-range effort.
Zapata tried again to open the scoring with his head just to see Silvestri answering with two saves in quick succession to keep the score at nil-nil. But Verona were wide awake now and their answer was fast: Federico Dimarco crossed from the left and Samuel Di Carmine missed the winning deflection by just a few inches.
It was the prelude to the Scaligeri‘s surprising lead: On 60 minutes, Ceccherini found the winning filtering pass for Mattia Zaccagni and Rafael Toloi had no choice but knocking Verona’s number 20 down to prevent him from going one-on-one with the goalkeeper. It was a crystal clear penalty, which veteran Veloso was stone cold to convert to draw Verona ahead.
At that point, Gasperini replaced his full front-line as he sent in Sam Lammers and Luis Muriel for Ilicic and Zapata. Soon enough, he also had to make a change between the sticks as Pierluigi Gollini got injured. Quite some bad luck for Atalanta’s custodian, who was just at his second game after coming back from a long absence.
There were additional chances for both sides, with Verona’s Andrea Favilli – who had just replaced Ceccherini – whipping the ball no far from the target and Luis Muriel heading it just above the woodwork for Atalanta.
But rather than La Dea grabbing an equalizer, it was Verona to double their lead as Mattia Zaccagni caught a fine Miguel Veloso pass that leapt over Atalanta’s defense and slotted the ball home to wrap his first seasonal goal.
There could have been a third one as well but Ebrima Colley wasted a golden chance as he went one-on-one with Marco Sportiello but was denied by Atalanta’s backup goalkeeper. Three goals would have been too much of a punishment for the home side, but Gasperini will need to spend some good time analyzing the warning signs his side showed tonight.
November 28, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 9
SCORERS: 62′ Veloso (pen.), 83′ Zaccagni
|ATALANTA (3-4-2-1): Gollini (64′ Sportiello); Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Mojica (77′ Ruggeri); Ilicic (62′ Lammers), Gomez (78′ Diallo); Zapata (62′ Muriel) (Rossi, Sutalo, Romero, Piccini, Depaoli, Pessina, Panada) Coach: Gasperini
|VERONA (3-4-2-1): Silvestri; Dawidowicz, Lovato (30′ Danzi, 46′ Veloso), Ceccherini (73′ Favilli); Faraoni, Tameze, Ilicic (57′ Colley), Dimarco; Barak, Zaccagni; Di Carmine (57′ Salcedo) (Berardi, Pandur, Udogie, Terracciano, Amione, Ilie, Bertini) Coach: Juric
REFEREE: Mr. Massa from Imperia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Gasperini, Toloi, Diallo (A), Ceccherini, Dawidowicz, Veloso (V); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′; 2nd Half 4′