The most significant game this week was the bout between Atalanta and Milan with the fourth spot on the line. The Goddess came into the fixture having won four of five, while the Rossoneri were coming off their most convincing win of the season, against Cagliari, and riding a six-match undefeated streak, where they had tied three times.
Both coaches confirmed the XIs they have been using consistently for few weeks: the only tweak by Gian Piero Gasperini was picking Berat Djimsiti to anchor the back-line and moving José-Luis Palomino to left centre-back, over Gianluca Mancini, while Gennaro Gattuso marshaled his usual 4-3-3.
Franck Kessie had the first two chances of the game, first shaking free on the right-hand portion of the box but sending his attempt over the bar, then sneaking between the defenders for a diving header, but he misdirected it.
Atalanta took control of the operations after the two initial scares, but without generating many opportunities up until the 33rd minutes, when they broke the standstill: Josip Ilicic waltzed deep into the box, delivered a squared ball for the onrushing Remo Freuler and Gianluigi Donnarumma could not parry away the shot.
The Devil had not threatened Etrit Berisha for a long stretch, but Krzysztof Piatek needs just one good ball these days to score and, just at the end of the first half, he bagged a lefty volley from the penalty spot on a long delivery by Cristian Rodriguez without even looking at the goal and knotted the contest.
The home team did not come out with the same intensity in the second half and Milan punished them after ten minutes with Hakan Calhanoglu, who finally ended his scoring slump with a potent cross-shot from 25 meters out. At the one-hour mark, the Rossoneri doubled their lead as Piatek bagged a header outjumping Duvan Zapata and the goalie on a corner kick.
The Orobici tried to muster up a reaction, but, with Alejandro Gomez and Zapata having an off game, Ilicic was the only one to get anything going, but his long-range efforts were not very menacing. Donnarumma also easily saved the opponents’ best shots: two pretty tame strikes from inside the box by Timothy Castagne and Dejan Kulusevski.
With the precious win, Milan move four points clear of Atalanta and Lazio and stay in front of Roma. In the fantasy game, Piatek collected eight points, Calhanoglu six because he also assisted his teammate and Rodriguez one for the same reason. Remo Freuler picked up four, Josip Ilicic two for the dish.
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