Atalanta struck a blow to Milan's Serie A title hopes after winning 3-0 against the league leaders at San Siro on Saturday.

A first-half header from Cristian Romero and a penalty after the break from Josip Ilicic set the Rossoneri on course for just a second league loss of the season.

Stefano Pioli's side secured the title of winter champions by staying top at the halfway stage of the season, but Inter have closed the gap and the rest of the chasing pack will feel emboldened by the result.

Duvan Zapata struck a clinical third goal on the break to make certain there would be no comeback from Milan, who are now winless in seven home league matches against Atalanta stretching back to January 2014.

New signing Soualiho Meite almost marked his debut with a goal three minutes in, the midfielder sending a header high and wide from Sandro Tonali's corner.

Atalanta began to build some pressure and found the breakthrough 26 minutes in, Romero stooping to nod the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma from Robin Gosens' delivery.

The visitors doubled their advantage just seven minutes into the second half, Ilicic firing a penalty beneath Donnarumma after Franck Kessie had caught him in the face with a raised arm.

It should have been 3-0 on the hour mark, Zapata heading over after being picked out by a brilliant Ilicic cross from the right.

Pioli handed a debut off the bench to Mario Mandzukic, and he nearly marked his Serie A return with an immediate impact, Pierluigi Gollini doing well to get a hand down and claw away his shot.

As Milan sought a lifeline, Atalanta hit them on the break in ruthless fashion.

Romero slipped in Zapata - who had hit the post with a header in his side's previous attack - and the forward rifled a left-footed shot beyond Donnarumma.

What does it mean? Milan are winter champions but Scudetto battle is on

Inter's goalless draw at Udinese means Milan stay top of the table at the midway point of the season despite this defeat.

Still, their lead over the Nerazzurri is now down to two points as they have now lost twice in their previous four league games.

Atalanta are up into fourth, although they have played two games more than Napoli and Juventus below them.

Ilicic shines at San Siro

With Alejandro Gomez almost certain to leave this month, Atalanta's creative burden is firmly on Ilicic's shoulders, and he did not disappoint here.

He created five openings from crosses, one of which set up Romero's opener, and ended with more shots (seven) and more on target (three) than anyone else.

No milestone magic from Zlatan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was making the 600th appearance in regular-season league competition of his storied career, but this was not much of a way to celebrate.

The 39-year-old played the whole game but had just 35 touches of the ball, completed only 15 passes and did not muster a shot on target.

What's next?

Milan face Inter in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Tuesday before heading to Bologna in Serie A next Saturday. Atalanta meet Lazio twice next week, in the cup and then the league.

So, the Jadon Sancho saga rambles on.

Manchester United want to sign Sancho, but Borussia Dortmund are adamant the 20-year-old will be staying put in 2020-21.

Could Barcelona and Real Madrid enter the mix?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED BRACED FOR SANCHO BATTLE

Manchester United believe Barcelona and Real Madrid will enter the race to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Mirror.

United have identified Sancho as their number one transfer target, however, Dortmund continually insist the England international will not leave the Bundesliga team.

If United fail to land Sancho this off-season, the Red Devils are bracing for a three-way battle with LaLiga giants Barca and Madrid next year.

ROUND-UP

- Cristiano Ronaldo to Barcelona? The Juventus superstar's entourage told AS he is happy in Italy, despite claims the former Madrid forward has been offered to the LaLiga outfit as the Scudetto holders look to free up cash.

- Journalist Fabrizio Romano claims Premier League champions Liverpool are in contact with Bundesliga holders Bayern Munich regarding Thiago Alcantara. The Spanish star has also emerged as a possible target for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Tuttosport says Paulo Dybala could be offered to United in exchange for Paul Pogba. Dybala has been linked with Juve exits as the Serie A champions look to slash their wage bill. Dybala could be the player sacrificed in a bid to lure Pogba back to Turin, while Madrid and PSG are believed to be interested in the Argentina international.

- Barcelona star Luis Suarez is wanted by Qatari outfit Al-Arabi, says beIN SPORTS. Suarez is contracted to the LaLiga giants until 2021 as Barca eye Inter forward Lautaro Martinez as his long-term replacement.

Juve are eyeing a move for Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata, reports Calciomercato. Zapata starred as Atalanta finished third in Serie A and reached the Champions League quarter-finals. Juve – now led by Andrea Pirlo – have also been linked with Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik and Roma veteran Edin Dzeko.

- The Sun claims City are considering a £40million bid for Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks.

United are challenging rivals Chelsea for Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, who is valued at £80m, according to The Mirror.

Napoli are eyeing a double Roma raid, with Gazzetta dello Sport saying Cengiz Under and Jordan Veretout are on the list. With Jose Callejon and Allan set to leave, Napoli want to sign Roma's Under and Veretout.

Juventus and Atletico Madrid have been told by Atalanta general manager Umberto Marino that it will take an offer of more than €50million to sign striker Duvan Zapata.

Colombia international Zapata has netted 17 Serie A goals this season for free-scoring Atalanta, who climbed into second place with Tuesday's 1-0 win over Bologna.

He has been strongly linked with a move to domestic rivals Juve and LaLiga side Atletico, with the latter rumoured to have had an opening offer of €50m knocked back.

However, Marino is holding out for a far bigger sum for a player who has netted 40 goals in two league campaigns with Atalanta since joining from Sampdoria.

"He is worth much more than €50m. They have to raise their bid," Marino is quoted as saying by Sky Sport Italia.  

"But it is early to talk about it. We have to enjoy the Champions League and what remains of the season. 

"He is doing well in Bergamo and I am happy that great international teams are looking at him."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is still waiting for Barcelona, while Manchester City could be set to sign an attacker.

Aubameyang's future at Arsenal is uncertain, with the star forward out of contract next year.

And the Gabon international seems to be biding his time.

 

TOP STORY – AUBAMEYANG WAITS FOR BARCELONA OFFER

Aubameyang is prepared to wait for an offer from Barcelona amid their apparent interest in Arsenal's top scorer, according to Sky Sport and Sport.

Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo reports the 31-year-old is considered an alternative if Barca cannot land Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

Aubameyang has scored 25 goals in 42 games for Arsenal this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Valencia attacker Ferran Torres looks like he has decided on his next move. Sport Bild reports the 20-year-old has agreed to join Manchester City over Borussia Dortmund. The report says the Bundesliga club considered Torres as a potential replacement for Jadon Sancho, who is linked with a move away.

- Following some less-than-convincing performances from Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea are apparently eyeing a goalkeeper this close season. The Manchester Evening News reports Chelsea are prepared to more than double Dean Henderson's Manchester United wages, with the shot-stopper having impressed on loan at Sheffield United this season. The Daily Mail says Henderson is set for talks with Manchester United next week.

- Atalanta star Duvan Zapata could be set for a move. CalcioMercato reports Juventus are interested in the striker, who it says was the subject of a €50million offer from a foreign club.

- Liverpool and Manchester City are reportedly interested in Sevilla defender Diego Carlos. Goal reports the LaLiga club have received two offers from England for the 27-year-old, although from which clubs remains unknown.

- Loris Karius seems set to make a permanent exit from Liverpool. Goal says the Premier League champions want €6.6m (£6m) for the goalkeeper amid interest from Marseille.

- Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is on track for a move from Southampton. The Telegraph reports Everton's bid of around £25m for the midfielder has been accepted, but Tottenham have also submitted an offer.

Barcelona players reportedly want Patrick Kluivert to take charge of the LaLiga giants.

Quique Setien is under growing pressure at the helm of Barcelona after giving up the league title to rivals Real Madrid.

Amid uncertainty over Setien, it seems Kluivert would be a popular appointment.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PLAYERS WANT KLUIVERT AS COACH

Barcelona's dressing room want Kluivert as head coach, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The club's former striker returned to Barcelona last year, becoming the academy director.

The report says Kluivert is seen by players as Barcelona's answer to Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, who starred at the Santiago Bernabeu during his playing career.

Kluivert, 44, has limited experience as a head coach, having previously been in charge of Jong FC Twente and Curacao.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City could be busy during the next close season. Tuttosport reports City are targeting Juventus forward Douglas Costa, who has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain. The report says City could pay around £36.5million (€40m) to £45.6m (€50m) for Costa.

- While Gianluigi Donnarumma is coming out of contract at Milan next year, the goalkeeper is expected to re-sign. However, CalcioMercato says the shot-stopper is in no rush to get a deal done.

- Victor Osimhen is close to sealing a move to Napoli. L'Equipe claims the Lille forward, who scored 18 goals in 2019-20, will sign a six-year deal with Napoli. The Serie A club will pay €81m for the 21-year-old.

- After two impressive seasons with Atalanta, Duvan Zapata is catching the eye. CalcioMercato says Juventus are interested in the Colombia international forward.

- Mario Gotze has plenty of interest. After leaving Borussia Dortmund, the 28-year-old is a target for Fiorentina, according to Corriere dello Sport. Meanwhile, Sport Bild reports Gotze is also on the wish list of Monaco, where Niko Kovac has been named coach.

- On loan at Sheffield United from Manchester United, Dean Henderson has impressed. The Daily Express reports Chelsea are yet to decide whether they will make a move for the goalkeeper, amid constant speculation over their own shot-stopper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.

- As he departs Liverpool, Adam Lallana looks set to stay in the Premier League. The Sun reports Leicester City, Everton, Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion are all targeting the midfielder.

Cristiano Ronaldo twice scored from the penalty spot as Juventus put an end to Atalanta's winning streak, the Serie A leaders rallying late to secure a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Substitute Ruslan Malinovskiy fired in an 80th-minute goal that had Gian Piero Gasperini's in-form side on course to move into second place in the table courtesy of a 10th straight league win.

Duvan Zapata had put the visitors into the lead as they dominated in the first half, though they were pegged back soon after the break when a handball call against Marten de Roon allowed Ronaldo to level.

Having surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at Milan in midweek, Maurizio Sarri's side appeared on course to suffer a second successive loss, in the process cutting their lead at the summit to six points.

However, referee Piero Giacomelli pointed to the spot for a second time when the ball struck Luis Muriel's arm in the 90th minute, allowing Ronaldo to deny Atalanta and leave Juve eight clear of Lazio.

 

 

Duvan Zapata's opener for Atalanta against Juventus on Saturday saw Gian Piero Gasperini's side achieve a feat not witnessed in Serie A for 68 years.

Colombia international Zapata drilled home a clever pass from Alejandro Gomez to score his 15th league goal of the season in the 16th minute at the Allianz Stadium.

It meant Atalanta became the first team with three players to score at least 15 goals in the same Serie A campaign since Ermes Muccinelli, Giampiero Boniperti and John Hansen for Juventus in 1951-52.

Josip Ilicic was already on 15 when Zapata struck, while Luis Muriel was on 17.

Atalanta have now scored in 20 successive Serie A matches – their best run in the competition since netting in 23 consecutively in 1955-56.

Juventus were 2-0 up and coasting at Milan on Tuesday before collapsing in utterly abject fashion.

Three goals in five minutes turned the game on its head before Ante Rebic completed a 4-2 triumph for the Rossoneri.

A seven-point lead with seven games remaining means Maurizio Sarri's men remain on course for the Scudetto.

But up next are fourth-placed Atalanta, themselves nine points from the summit. After their San Siro ordeal, a showdown with one of the most exciting and dangerous teams in European football might be the last thing Juve need.


PERFECT SINCE LOCKDOWN

Saturday's match at the Allianz Stadium brings together two attacking ideologues. Sarri's high-pressing, high-possession approach became so ingrained during his celebrated spell at Napoli that it was given its own nickname.

But Sarrismo has a more than worthy adversary in Gian Piero Gasperini's thrilling, fearless setup.

Atalanta's expansive 3-4-1-2 system, in which central midfielders, wing-backs and forwards freely exchange positions to repeatedly overload opponents in wide areas, has produced goals by the truckload this season.

They head to Turin in prime form, buoyed by a run of nine Serie A wins in succession – the club's longest ever such tally in the top flight.

Along with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid – both potential Champions League final opponents in these heady days for Atalanta – they are one of three teams in Europe's top five leagues to have won all their games since lockdown.

Overall, La Dea have 20 victories this term, which is one shy of the single season record Gasperini set during his first campaign at the helm in 2016-17.


GOALS, GOALS, GOALS

While Gasperini's masterpiece is one of collective ingenuity, there are also some very impressive individual numbers.

If Duvan Zapata manages one more league goal, Atalanta will be the first side to have three players with 15 or more to their name in a Serie A season since Juventus in 1951-52, when Ermes Muccinelli, Giampiero Boniperti and John Hansen accomplished the feat

Luis Muriel and Josip Ilicic have 17 and 15 respectively, with Muriel's feat all the more impressive when considering he typically begins matches on the bench.

Indeed, the Colombia international is only the second player to score double figures in a single season via substitute appearances across the top five leagues, after Paco Alcacer did likewise at Borussia Dortmund in 2018-19.

The dazzling firecracker at the creative centre of this explosive attack is Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez, who is set to make his 300th Serie A appearance against Juventus.

The 32-year-old Argentinian playmaker enjoys free rein as Gasperini's number 10 and has racked up 15 assists this term – the highest single-season figure since Opta started collecting such data in 2004-05.

Gomez has provided at least 10 Serie A assists in each of his four seasons under Gasperini and the former Catania man has 128 goal involvements in Italy's top flight overall (61 goals and 67 assists).


GATECRASHING EUROPE'S ELITE

A rampaging last-16 win over Valencia booked Atalanta's place in the Champions League quarter-finals, where they will take on Paris Saint-Germain when Europe's elite club competition lands in Lisbon for its concluding mini-tournament next month.

Their performances truly are among the very best on the continent

Only Bayern (100) and Manchester City (86) have scored more league goals than Atalanta's 85 in 2019-20.

That amounts to an average of 2.74 per game, again the third best in Europe. Dominant Bundesliga winners Bayern edged up to 2.94 per game, while PSG averaged 2.78 across the truncated Ligue 1 season.

Along with City and Barcelona, Atalanta have scored five or more goals in five separate matches. That can only be bettered in the Bundesliga, where Bayern and Dortmund each did it six times.

Things are also looking pleasingly tight at the back. In 2020, La Dea have five Serie A clean sheets, edged in the calendar year so far by Juventus and Milan with six apiece.

Juve certainly should not bank on adding to that number when they host Gasperini's great entertainers. If Atalanta manage to storm Turin, it will be 10 wins in a row and the gap will be six points with six games to play.

They can't... can they?

Barcelona seemingly continue to make progress in their pursuit of Lautaro Martinez, while Real Madrid reportedly have seven transfer priorities.

After impressing at Inter, Martinez has been linked with a move away, with Barcelona appearing to be leading the chase for the forward.

Meanwhile, Barcelona's rivals Madrid have priorities of their own.

 

TOP STORY – INTER READY TO ACCEPT PLAYERS FROM BARCELONA IN MARTINEZ DEAL

Barcelona want to make their move for Martinez cheaper by offering several players and Inter view this option positively, according to the cover of Sport.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games in all competitions for Inter this season.

Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich, and Ousmane Dembele are among the Barcelona players to have been linked with moves away.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid have seven major questions to answer, according to Marca, which says the LaLiga club must sign a goalscorer, extend Luka Modric's contract, bring Martin Odegaard back from loan, decide on the future of Achraf Hakimi, sign Donny van de Beek, decide between Alphonse Areola or Andriy Lunin as second goalkeeper and loan out or sell Dani Ceballos.

- Will Jadon Sancho leave Borussia Dortmund? The Mirror reports Manchester United are increasingly confident of landing Sancho during the next transfer window. The Sun, however, says Dortmund may be changing their plans with the attacker due to the coronavirus pandemic.

- Barcelona may want to sell Samuel Umtiti, but it is shaping to be difficult. AS says the club are aware selling the France defender is likely to be tough due to his injury problems.

- With Martinez potentially leaving, Inter are lining up replacements. Sport claims Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud would be one of their signings, while they are also targeting Atalanta's Duvan Zapata.

- On loan at Monaco from Chelsea, Tiemoue Bakayoko may see his future elsewhere. Calciomercato reports the 25-year-old is keen to return to Milan, where he was on loan in 2018-19. It also reports Milan are targeting Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen.

- There could be other departures at Stamford Bridge. According to The Sun, Chelsea are ready to sell Emerson Palmieri and Victor Moses to raise around £30million with the duo linked to Juventus and Inter respectively.

Lautaro Martinez is a wanted man and his future could become clearer.

The Inter star has dazzled in Italy this season, alongside team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

And Barcelona are reportedly keen to tie up a deal for the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TABLE MARTINEZ BID

Barcelona have made their first offer to Inter for star forward Lautaro Martinez, according to FCInterNews.it.

Martinez has reportedly been identified as a long-term replacement for Barca veteran Luis Suarez, while the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United are interested.

According to the report, LaLiga champions Barca have tabled a €70m bid for Martinez plus two players – Arturo Vidal and Nelson Semedo.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph says United are favourites to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho at the end of the season. Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked with moves for the 19-year-old.

Athletic Bilbao are interested in Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, reports Marca. Bilbao have a Basque-only transfer policy, however, Argentina international Higuain qualifies due to the Basque-French origin of his grandfather.

- Amid doubts over Martinez's future in Milan, Calciomercato says Inter are eyeing Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata.

- According to Goal, Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is considering a move to MLS outfit and sister club New York City. The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces an uncertain future at Milan amid doubts over directors Zvonimir Boban and Paolo Maldini, claims Tuttosport. Boban and Maldini had reportedly been seeking to extend Ibrahimovic's contract until 2021 but the pair are reportedly set to leave San Siro following a row with Elliott Management.

Atalanta were in seventh heaven for a third time this season after hammering Lecce 7-2 in a one-sided Serie A clash at the Stadio Via del Mare.

Gian Piero Gasperini's great entertainers put on another ruthless show to extend their winning run to five matches in all competitions, Duvan Zapata helping himself to a hat-trick.

It was the third time this season that Atalanta have scored seven in Serie A, having thumped Udinese 7-1 in October and thrashed Torino 7-0 away from home in January and have now amassed 70 goals in 25 matches.

They also become the first team since Milan way back in 1958-59 to score five or more goals in five Serie A encounters in the same season.

Zapata's treble ensured fourth-placed Atalanta have three players with a double-figure goal tally in the current campaign.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are the other only sides in the top-five European leagues to have three players with at least 10 goals this season.

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