Milan hold on to beat Atalanta and shut hole with leaders Napoli


BERGAMO, Italy, Oct 3 (Reuters) – AC Milan continued their spectacular begin to the Serie A season on Sunday, surviving a late Atalanta comeback to earn a 3-2 away victory.

Milan raced into an early lead, with captain Davide Calabria poking residence the ball on the second try after simply 28 seconds.

The hosts piled on the stress in the hunt for an equaliser however couldn’t make a number of probabilities rely, and Atalanta’s wastefulness proved expensive as Sandro Tonali raced clear three minutes earlier than the break to double Milan’s benefit.

Milan didn’t let up as Rafael Leao seemingly put the victory past all doubt with a 3rd objective with 12 minutes to go.

Duvan Zapata acquired Atalanta again into the competition from the penalty spot with 4 minutes left, earlier than Mario Pasalic ensured a nervy end for Milan in stoppage time with a second objective for the hosts but it surely proved too little, too late.

A sixth victory from seven league video games this season for second-placed Milan helped them to shut the hole with leaders Napoli to 2 factors, whereas Atalanta, who completed third behind Milan final time period, are eighth after their first defeat in six matches in all competitions.

“After it went to 3-2 we were worried but it is over now,” Tonali instructed DAZN. “We had a great match.

“We went robust regardless of a little bit of tiredness after the Champions League in midweek. Now let’s proceed like this. If you come to Bergamo and play a match like that it means that you’re on the precise path.”

Milan were the away-day specialists last season, winning 16 of their 19 games on the road in Serie A, and maintaining their unbeaten away record this term became much more achievable in Bergamo following Calabria’s early goal.

Calabria’s finish was the third-fastest Milan goal in Serie A since the 2004-05 season — when such statistics were first gathered.

Zapata and Ruslan Malinovskiy both should have done better from good positions for the home side as they chased a leveller, while goalkeeper Mike Maignan was again in fine form for Milan.

The goal that gave Milan breathing space was avoidable, as Remo Freuler was caught in possession by Tonali who was able to stroke home his third of the season unopposed.

Atalanta tailed off as the match wore on, with Alexis Saelemaekers missing a glorious chance to make it three midway through the second half before Leao hammered home his third goal of the season.

Out of nowhere, Milan debutant Junior Messias was adjudged to have handled in the penalty area, giving Zapata the chance to unsettle Stefano Pioli’s side, which he converted with aplomb.

That bolt from the blue proved to be disruptive as substitute Pasalic was left unmarked to stroke home from close range but there was not enough time to complete the comeback.

“We did higher than our opponents, we deservedly received in opposition to a powerful group and on a troublesome pitch,” Pioli told reporters.

“We knew that Atalanta begin strongly at residence, however we began higher than them with the objective from Calabria, it gave us larger conviction.”

Reporting by Peter Hall; modifying by Clare Fallon

Soccer Football - Serie A - Atalanta v AC Milan - Stadio Atleti Azzurri, Bergamo, Italy - October 3, 2021 Atalanta's Teun Koopmeiners in action with AC Milan's Ante Rebic REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

Soccer Football - Serie A - Atalanta v AC Milan - Stadio Atleti Azzurri, Bergamo, Italy - October 3, 2021 Atalanta's Duvan Zapata scores their first goal from the penalty spot REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

Soccer Football - Serie A - Atalanta v AC Milan - Stadio Atleti Azzurri, Bergamo, Italy - October 3, 2021 AC Milan's Ante Rebic in action with Atalanta's Giuseppe Pezzella REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo