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.

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?

Atalanta have requested supporters do not celebrate their historic Champions League quarter-final qualification with public gatherings after Italy was put on lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side played out a thrilling 4-3 win over Valencia at Mestalla on Tuesday, with Josip Ilicic scoring all of Atalanta's goals in a wonderful individual display.

Victory secured Atalanta an 8-4 aggregate win, seeing them qualify for the last eight for the first time.

But the club has urged fans to not greet them at the airport or have public gatherings to celebrate, with a government decree on Monday putting the country on lockdown following the spread of COVID-19.

A statement posted on Twitter read: "Atalanta, in compliance with the Ministerial Decree of March 9, for the purpose of safeguarding public health, invites all people not to create gatherings in the center of Bergamo, at the Orio al Serio airport or at the Centro Bortolotti [Atalanta's training base] in Zingonia when the team returns from Valencia."

A hat-trick from Josip Ilicic that included a sensational free-kick inspired Atalanta to an astonishing 7-0 away win over Torino, their biggest ever Serie A triumph.

Atalanta, who will play Valencia in the Champions League last 16, boosted their hopes of achieving another top-four finish with a stunning victory on Saturday.

Ilicic, who netted a remarkable free-kick from near the halfway line, scored his fourth Serie A hat-trick since the start of 2018, with only Lionel Messi (7) and Sergio Aguero (6) boasting better records over that span in the top five European leagues.

Atalanta's first top-flight win by a seven-goal margin - and Torino's largest such home defeat - saw Robin Gosens follow up Ilicic's close-range opener with a fine volley.

Duvan Zapata scored a penalty on the stroke of half-time before Ilicic caught out home goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu with an audacious set-piece from next to the centre circle after 53 minutes.

He completed his hat-trick a minute later and Il Toro's humiliation was sealed when substitute Luis Muriel scored a quickfire late double, one of his efforts coming from the penalty spot.

Armando Izzo was sent off for a second bookable offence when Torino were five goals down, and they ended up with nine men after Sasa Lukic got a straight red for a foul on Alejandro Gomez, by which point the visitors had already scored seven.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men are fifth in the table, level on points with Roma above them, with Torino down in 10th position.

Atalanta were third in Serie A last season and finished second to Manchester City in Champions League Group C despite losing their first three matches in the competition.

Josip Ilicic scored twice as Atalanta outclassed a sorry Milan with a 5-0 rout in Bergamo on Sunday.

The hosts were rewarded for a dominant opening with a wonderful solo goal from Alejandro Gomez and ex-Rossoneri midfielder Mario Pasalic doubled the lead shortly after the hour.

Ilicic drilled home in the 63rd minute and soon had a second with an exquisite effort as Atalanta - who completed the thrashing through substitute Luis Muriel - were rewarded for a display full of enterprise and invention with a result that sees them head into Serie A's mid-season break in fifth.

Milan, who were unbeaten in four prior to the game, and coach Stefano Pioli will need to do some soul searching over the next fortnight, though, after a woeful away performance.

Ilicic had already tested Gianluigi Donnarumma by the time Gomez opened the scoring with a sublime piece of skill after 10 minutes.

The forward nutmegged Andrea Conti on the left wing and drove inside before hammering high into the far corner.

Pasalic also rattled the crossbar and a ramshackle Milan, whose best first-half effort was a long-ranger from Ricardo Rodriguez, were fortunate Mateo Musacchio's elbow on Gomez only drew a yellow card.

Ruslan Malinovskiy placed a 20-yard effort just past the right post but a quickfire double had Atalanta in control.

Pasalic touched in Robin Gosens' strike from the left of the area, with Conti again beaten easily, before Ilicic turned Davide Calabria and rifled past a helpless Donnarumma less than two minutes later.

The best was still to come, though, with Ilicic jinking and weaving before cutting onto his left from 20 yards and bending a fine strike into the top-left corner.

Muriel, who replaced the brilliant Ilicic, made it five in the 83rd minute after racing onto a long ball and rounding the onrushing Donnarumma to tap into the open goal.


What does it mean? Woe in Bergamo for Milan

There were signs Milan were on the road to recovery after taking eight points from the previous four Serie A matches, but this was as hapless a showing the Rossoneri have produced during an underwhelming season. Isolated in attack, light in midfield and disorganised at the back, Pioli has much to ponder.

Ilicic the guide for fluent Atalanta

By contrast there was much to admire about Atalanta, whose front three caused Milan all manner of trouble. At the heart of it was Ilicic, who had forced Donnarumma into action twice before his goals. Gomez also impressed and had Conti on toast for his wonderful opener, while Pasalic – who did not celebrate against his former club – was always a creative outlet.

Conti emblematic of Milan's misery

Not many in a Milan shirt came out with much credit here, but Conti had a particularly torrid time and was culpable for Atalanta's opening two goals.

What's next?

Atalanta resume after the mid-season break with a home fixture against Parma on January 6, the same day Milan welcome Sampdoria.

Kylian Mbappe is the star attraction of the latest Team of the Week on FIFA Ultimate Team after he scored twice for Paris Saint-Germain in the 4-0 Classique win over Marseille on Sunday.

Although the Frenchman has had an injury-hit start to the season, he has still managed to net eight goals in nine appearances across all competitions, with PSG looking sharp.

He is not joined in the team by Jamie Vardy, however. The striker scored a hat-trick as Leicester City equalled the record for the biggest Premier League win when they demolished Southampton 9-0 on Friday.

Instead of the English forward, his Leicester team-mate Ayoze Perez – who also netted a treble – gets the nod, though he only takes a place among the substitutes, with Ben Chilwell the only Foxes star in the starting XI.

Below, we have the full squad of in-form cards that are now up for grabs online.

FUT Team of the Week

GK: Matz Sels (Strasbourg) – 82

CB: Domagoj Vida (Besiktas) – 83

CB: Nicolas Nkoulou (Torino) – 84

LB: Ben Chilwell (Leicester City) – 82

RM: Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen) – 84

CM: Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid) – 86

CDM: Fabinho (Liverpool) – 86

LW: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) – 90

CAM: Yusuf Yazici (Lille) – 82

ST: Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC) – 85

ST: Josip Ilicic (Atalanta) – 86

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Gabriel (Lecce) – 81

CB: Bernardo Espinosa (Espanyol) – 81

LM: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – 82

CAM: Calvin Stengs (AZ) – 81

RW: Ayoze Perez (Leicester City) – 82

ST: Karl Toko-Ekambi (Villarreal) – 82

ST: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – 82

RESERVES

CAM: Zelimkhan Bakaev (Spartak Moscow) – 78

RM: Maicol Balanta (Independiente Santa Fe) – 75

LM: Amahl Pellegrino (Kristiansund) – 72

ST: Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba (Al Ain) – 79

ST: Eoin Doyle (Swindon Town) – 73

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