MILAN (AFP) – Josip Ilicic hit a hat-trick, including a sensational strike from the halfway line, as Atalanta crushed Torino 7-0 in Serie A late last Saturday, inflicting the worst home defeat ever on their northern rivals who finished the match with nine men.
The Slovenian forward opened the scoring on 17 minutes, adding two more in quick-fire succession eight minutes after the break.
Substitute Luis Muriel also bagged a late brace to add to first-half goals by Robin Gosens and Duvan Zapata.
The hosts played the final quarter of an hour a man down after Armando Izzo was sent off, with Sasa Lukic joining him with just a minute to go.
Torino coach Walter Mazzarri blasted an “indefensible performance”.
“All we can do is apologise,” he said. “In so many years of my career I had never had such a game.”
But the Torino coach ruled out quitting. “Resignation? No, in difficulties I never leave.”
Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta hit back after last weekend’s shock defeat to lowly SPAL, following a draw against Inter Milan.
They now join Roma in fourth place on 38 points.
“Ilicic is decisive, not only in the penalty area, he is a continuous creator,” said Gasperini. “Most of our attacking game is built around him.”
Roma occupy the final Champions League spot on goal difference before they take on local rivals Lazio in a derby in the Stadio Olimpico.
In-form Ilicic pounced on an early error from Torino defender Diego Laxalt, with Gosens volleying in the second just before the half hour.
Atalanta were awarded a penalty after Lukic fouled Ilicic with Zapata stepping up to slot in from the spot for his first goal after returning from a three-month injury layoff.
Ilicic got his second in sensational style after 53 minutes when he spotted Sirigu off his line and sent a free-kick sailing long distance from just inside the halfway line and over the head of the Torino goalkeeper.
The Slovenian then picked up a Zapata cross a minute later to complete his hat-trick with his 13th goal this season.
Torino were in disarray after Izzo was sent off for a second yellow card.
Muriel came on with seven minutes to go and slotted in a penalty awarded for a Soualiho Meite foul on Rafael Toloi.
The Colombian added his second just two minutes later, finishing off a Papu Gomez cross.