Atalanta overtook Juventus in Serie A thanks to a 1-0 win on Sunday afternoon, as the race for the Champions League spots intensifies.
It was always going to be a slightly more difficult ask of Juventus than usual, given Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence and their poor record without him, but even they probably could not anticipate the brilliance of Atalanta.
Not long after the half-hour mark though, perhaps the best opportunity of the game fell to the Bianconeri’s Alvaro Morata when a moment of indecision led to calamity for Joakim Maehle inside his own box.
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Federico Chiesa picked his pocket and supplied Morata, whose deft effort was cleared off the line by Berat Djimsiti.
Atalanta had an equally good chance of their own around ten minutes prior, albeit with the same outcome.
Luis Muriel and Matteo Pessina combined well to enable Pessina to find his way into the penalty area, but he pondered over the shot so much that when he eventually pulled the trigger Matthijs de Ligt was on hand to block it.
In the second half, it was Atalanta who had the better chances and they finally made it count in the 87th minute thanks to a pair of inspired substitutions by Gian Piero Gasperini.
Ruslan Malinovsky was squared the ball by fellow substitute Josip Ilicic just outside the area and his powerful left-footed shot was deflected into the back of the net just a minute after he had a free-kick from range kept out by a wonderful save by Wojciech Szczesny.
Atalanta now sit two points ahead of Juventus in third place in Serie A ahead of a Thursday game away to Roma, while Juventus will do battle with Parma the evening before.
TALKING POINT - A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE?
As the debate rages on over whether Ronaldo will stay at Juventus or not, it is hard to believe that a game like this will not have any bearing on his and the club's decision.
Ronaldo's influence and impact on any team he plays in is undeniable given his ability, but Juventus' record of two wins in seven games without him this season is abysmal and although it is natural to be reliant to some extent on your star player, has poor squad building and management led to an over reliance on him?
Their current squad features a serviceable blend of youth and experience but many of these players clearly have not been signed to a fit a particular system and seem relatively out of place at times.
Obviously, with the players they have and their budget they should walk the league regardless, but the fact that they are not doing so and struggled in the Champions League too means that today's match could be a preview of a bleak future without Ronaldo.
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MAN OF THE MATCH - Ruslan Malinovsky (Atalanta)
It may have only been a 20-minute cameo but Malinovsky was happy to be on the pitch for a good time, not a long time! Him and Ilicic changed the game as soon as they entered the pitch and even though Atalanta had put in a strong performance until then, the duo of Malinovsky and Ilicic made them much more dangerous before eventually grabbing the all-important goal.
Atalanta: Gollini 8, Toloi 8, Palomino 7, Djimsiti 8, Maehle 6, Gosens 8, de Roon 7, Freuler 8, Pessina 7, Muriel 7, Zapata 7...Subs: Pasalic 6, Ilicic 8, Malinovsky 8
Juventus: Szczesny 7, Sandro 7, Chiellini 7, de Ligt 8, Cuadrado 8, Bentancur 6, Rabiot 6, Chiesa 7, McKennie 6, Morata 5, Dybala 5...Subs: Danilo 6, Kulusevski 6, Arthur 6
24' - CHANCE! Muriel and Pessina combine well to get into the penalty area, Pessina takes aim and a slight deflection off de Ligt saves Juve!
35' - CLOSE!! Morata spurns an opportunity to give Juve the lead after a calamitous moment from Maehle! The ball fell awkwardly in the Atalanta box and his indecisiveness allowed Chiesa to pick his pocket and supply Morata, whose deft shot is cleared off the line by Djimsiti.
59' - CLOSE!! Muriel seizes onto the ball and lashes a shot towards the far post, which only misses by the narrowest of margins. That's as close as you can get!
70' - CLOSE!! Zapata really should've buried that! The sub Ilicic produces a wonderful turn, drives towards the box and whips in a sumptuous cross. Zapata's connection was crisp but he just couldn't guide his header on target.
86' - SAVED!! Malinovsky thunders in a free-kick from far out and Szczesny has to use all his agility to dart across the goal and stop it from going in the top corner. Incredible save, but now they've got a corner to defend.
87' - GOAL!!! Malinovsky breaks the deadlock! The corner he won is taken short and after some simple passes on the right flank Ilicic finds Malinovsky just outside the area. He cuts inside on his left and fires a rocket that's deflected into the goal. Has he just won Atalanta the game?
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