Atalanta climbed to the Serie A Champions League with a 2-0 win over rivals Lazio on Saturday in a highly anticipated match. Rome stumbled to a 1-1 draw with lowly Lecce.
Goals from Davide Zappacosta and Rasmus Hojlund saw the Bergamo club climb from sixth to third, leapfrogging Lazio, champions AC Milan and Roma in a fierce battle to qualify for the Europe’s top club competition.
Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio, who managed to beat Rome city with a victory at the Stadio Olimpico, dropped to sixth and lie two points from the top four.
Atalanta, Roma and fifth-placed Milan are tied on 41 points but remain 15 points behind runaway leaders Napoli.
Atalanta The highlight was done in a tense encounter in the Italian capital when Zappacosta unleashed a stunning strike into the top corner in the 23rd minute.
Danish teenager Hojlund doubled the lead for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side on 65 minutes, turning in Ademola Lookman’s cross as Lazio were made to pay for not taking their chances.
“We play these types of games and they give us a lot of confidence,” said Gasperini. “Achieving the Champions League will be extraordinary.”
Jose Mourinho’s Roma occupy last place in the Champions League after dropping two points to 14th-placed Lecce as Netherlands star Georginio Wijnaldum makes a long-awaited return from injury.
They made a dangerous start when Roger Ibanez turned the ball into his own net from a corner in the seventh minute.
Paulo Dybala equalized from the penalty spot 10 minutes later after a Lecce ball as Roma responded strongly early on.
But the visitors, boosted by the return of midfielder Wijnaldum from the bench after a long absence caused by a broken tibia in August, failed to win.
Lecce goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone shone with a string of saves, denying Tammy Abraham three times.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted, but it was a difficult game on a dangerous level,” Mourinho said.
Empoli scored a stoppage-time equalizer as they recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to shock Spezia, in a thrilling contest where both sides were reduced to 10 man
Fabiano Parisi was sent off for the hosts in the 21st minute after a VAR review after blocking a header bound for the corner with his hand.
Empoli goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario thought he had saved Daniele Verde’s penalty, but the referee called it back for the foul, and Verde made no mistake at the second attempt.
Verde gave Spezia a 2-0 lead with a stunning long-range strike in the 31st minute, but Salvatore Esposito’s red card for a second offense could have been drawn shortly after half-time. time saw the game in favor of Empoli.
Nicolo Cambiaghi halved the deficit with a goal in the 71st minute before Emanuel Vignato denied in injury time what could have been a crucial victory for Spezia, who lies in 17th place, five points above the relegation zone.
Olivier Giroud ended AC Milan’s slump with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Torino at the San Siro on Friday.
France’s header from Theo Hernandez’s cross in the second half snapped the champions’ three-game losing streak at top-flight Italy.
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