A late goal from Ruslan Malinovskiy, whose shot caught a fortunate deflection off Alex Sandro, earned Atalanta a narrow 1-0 win over Juventus in Bergamo. The goal settled an intense contest that never truly sparkled and looked on course for a 0-0 draw that both sides would have considered fair. Instead, the result could be springboard for Atalanta, who go above Juve to take third spot in the table.
PLENTY OF ENDEAVOUR, PRECIOUS FEW CHANCES
Juventus made a strong start to the contest, moving the ball quickly and linking up well as Atalanta pressed high, looking to play their trademark direct football.
The tempo was high in the opening exchanges, but there were no significant chances to speak of until before the 20-minute mark, when Atalanta’s Matteo Pessina played a one-two with Luis Muriel on the edge of the box before rifling towards goal. Matthijs De Ligt was there with an important block to deflect it behind for a corner.
Juve’s first big chance of the game came on 30 minutes. Federico Chiesa did brilliantly to win the ball in the Atalanta box and find Alvaro Morata, who managed to work a yard of space before attempting to lob Pierluigi Gollini, only for Berat Djimsiti to deny him a fine goal.
As the half drew to a close, the Bianconeri began to turn the screw, forcing the home side back into their half. There would be time for two more Juve chances before the end of the first period, but first Chiesa saw his shot blocked in the area and then De Ligt failed hit the target with a header from Juan Cuadrado’s free-kick.
LATE MALINOVSKYI GOAL THE DIFFERENCE
The match continued in a similar vein in the second period, though Andrea Pirlo had to do without Chiesa, who was replaced by Danilo just before the hour mark, while Atalanta were showcasing greater conviction. Luis Muriel’s right-footed effort from the edge of the box just cleared the crossbar, as did a Paulo Dybala free-kick.
The Argentine made way for Dejan Kulusevski, while Josip Ilicic came on for Muriel, making an immediate impact with dangerous cross that Zapata put just wide. At the other end, the Swede laid on a good opportunity for Morata, whose volley was diverted by Gollini out for a corner.
Pirlo sent on Arthur in place of Weston McKennie in a bid to bring order to a muddled and disjointed end to the game, with the tired teams committing fouls to break up play.
In a match that falls into such a pattern, individual moments can be decisive. And so it proved when Malinovskyi, who had already tested Wojciech Szczesny with a free-kick from 30 yards, saw a strike from the edge of the area deflect off Alex Sandro and find its way into the Juventus goal.
The strike after 87 minutes was enough to earn the home side all three points, which take Atalanta above Juventus in the league table, making for an increasingly tight race for the Champions League spots.
ATALANTA 1-0 JUVENTUS (HT: 0-0)
Gollini; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Maehle (Malinovskyi 72), De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pessina (Pasalic 46); Zapata, Muriel (Ilicic 68); Zapata
Subs not used: Sportiello, F. Rossi, Caldara, Ruggeri, Sutalo, Kovalenko, Miranchuk, Lammers
Szczesny; Cuadrado, de Ligt, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; McKennie (Arthur 77), Bentancur, Rabiot, Chiesa (Danilo 58); Dybala (Kulusevski 68), Morata
Subs not used: Buffon, Pinsoglio, Bonucci, Demiral, Frabotta, Ramsey, Felix Correia
ASSISTANTS: Giallatini, Preti
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Sacchi
VAR: Fabbri, Liberti
BOOKED: Bonucci 73, Gosens 78, Malinovsky 79, Djimsiti 82, Cuadrado 90+3