Atalanta’s Serie A title ambitions stall in Verona

MILAN (AFP) – Matteo Pessina grabbed the equaliser for Hellas Verona to hold his high-flying parent club Atalanta 1-1 in Serie A on Saturday night.

Atalanta move level on points with second-placed Inter Milan, but are six points adrift of Serie A leaders Juventus.

On-loan Pessina tapped in just before the hour mark in Verona minutes after Colombian striker Duvan Zapata had put the visitors ahead.

Atalanta move level on 71 points with second-placed Inter Milan, but are six points adrift of Serie A leaders Juventus.

Inter Milan travel to fifth-placed Roma, with eight-time holders Juventus tonight hosting fourth-placed Lazio, who are eight points off top spot.

“Talking about the Scudetto was always excessive,” said Gasperini, whose side have now scored in a club record 22 games in a row.

Verona’s Matteo Pessina celebrates with teammates after scoring his goal during the Serie A match against Atalanta at the Marcantonio Bentegodi Stadium. PHOTO: AP

Atalanta’s hopes of a first Scudetto in the team’s 112-year history are all but over with four games left to play.

“Since the restart (after coronavirus), we’ve been notching up results at Scudetto-pace, but that was never our objective because something extraordinary had to happen for us, but also for Juventus.

“We lack a point to get to the Champions League,” continued Gasperini, whose side will play Paris Saint-Germain in the last eight of this year’s edition next month.

“It’s true, our thoughts are on the PSG, a lot. We set some milestones in the championship, the record, the second place.

“But we use these games to prepare ourselves for even higher quality and the Champions League.”

Promoted Verona, in ninth, are coached by ex-Croatia midfielder Ivan Juric, who played under Gasperini in Genoa and was his assistant at Inter Milan and then Palermo.

“It was a good match against a difficult team who wanted revenge after a controversial loss to Roma,” added Gasperini, who lamented his side’s “lack of lucidity to close down the game”.

Atalanta threatened early on, with Mario Pasalic, scorer of a hat-trick against Brescia during the week, forcing a save from Marco Silvestri after quarter of an hour.

Zapata came close before the break, before getting his chance five minutes into the second half pouncing on a blunder by Koray Gunter to blast past Silvestri.

It was the Colombian’s 18th goal in all competitions this season, and 80th in his Serie A career between Atalanta, Sampdoria, Udinese and Napoli.

Four minutes later Pessina send in a rebound for his seventh league goal this season.

“I’m a bit sorry because I owe so much to Atalanta,” said Pessina, “but I’m a Verona player now.

“I’m happy that my goals this season were important to the team to stay in the top-flight and to aim high.”