HomeFootballREPORT | Salernitana 1-2 Atalanta

REPORT | Salernitana 1-2 Atalanta

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Serie A’s Champions League hopefuls Atalanta started the day in sixth place, just three points behind fifth place Roma with two games in hand. Whilst hosts Salernitana have been rooted to the bottom of the league for some time now, they sat on 15 points, 17 from safety, and mathematically relegated to Serie B.

Atalanta looked the more likely in Monday’s early evening kick-off. Unsurprisingly as they were the team with it all to play for. A scramble in the Salernitana box after 15 minutes saw Gianluca Scamacca swivel and shoot, but his shot was blocked and he would have to wait for a 10th Serie A goal of the season.

Then a shock came in the form of Loum Tchaouna’s fourth Serie A goal of the season. He broke free and cut inside from the right wing, perhaps getting lucky with the bounce of the ball off the Atalanta defender, but he finished well, across the keeper, to put the southern Italian side 1-0 up. Atalanta were looking open and vulnerable at the back.

Ademola Lookman looked bright for the visitors, but he missed an absolute sitter after 22 minutes. He was in the right place to meet Scamacca’s cross but couldn’t connect properly. Moments later some wonderful football from Atalanta saw Scamacca meet a cross from close range, but he just couldn’t generate enough power on the header to trouble the goalie. After looking light at the back, at least Atalnta were starting to purr going forward.

Atalanta came out on the front foot in the second period, making three changes, but Salernitana didn’t look like they fancied backing down either. Instead of guarding their lead they decided to keep attacking too. Atalanta crept towards the goal and it felt like an equaliser was inevitable.

Finally after 57 minutes Atalanta found their goal. A smart move ended up with a curled cross and Mario Pašalić met it with a neat header across goal. Scamacca was waiting to pounce in the six yard box and made no mistake.

Five minutes later Atalanta took the lead that they deserved. One of Gian Piero Gasperini’s halftime subs was Teun Koopmeiners and his introduction proved an inspired idea. The Dutchman unleashed a fine finish. Opening up his body and curling home with his left boot from outside the box.

The goal actually came from what looked like a Salernitana counter. As Domagoj Bradarić scurried out of his own box he took a heavy touch which inadvertently turned into a nicely weighted pass for his opponent. What could have been a breakaway for Salernitana ended up in a goal for the visitors, a goal that would take them into fifth place and Champions League qualification.With 20 minutes to go this match turned into a basketball game. Just seconds separated massive opportunities for both sides. Atalanta were trying to kill the game off and Salernitana were playing with the freedom of a side whose destiny had already been sealed.

In the end Atalanta would see out their deserved victory to go level on points with Roma, but still with one more game to play. Champions League qualification isn’t just in their hands now, it’s in touching distance, and guess what? Next up in the league is a huge home game against Roma in what looks very much like a Champions League playoff showdown.

Joseph O’Sullivan  | GIFN

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