Teun Koopmeiners has scored twice in Serie A this season
Atalanta closed in on Serie A leaders AC Milan on Sunday after coming from behind to win 2-1 at Verona and move to within two points of top spot.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side sit third in Italy’s top flight thanks to goals in either half from Aleksei Miranchuk and Teun Koopmeiners which ensured they took advantage of Milan drawing at Udinese on Saturday.
They are level on 37 points with second-placed Inter Milan, who will finish the weekend in first place if they beat Cagliari in Sunday’s late match, after moving above Napoli ahead of their home clash with Empoli in the early evening.
“Turning the result around was a show of force, we deserved to win even though it was an even match,” said Gasperini, who seemed quietly confident his team could have a say in the title tussle.
“Today we took a step forward, regarding mentality and determination, otherwise you don’t win these kinds of matches.”
A sixth straight league win on the road also has Gasperini’s side seven points away from fifth-placed Fiorentina in the race for the Champions League.
Defeat for Verona meanwhile was their first at home since Igor Tudor took charge in mid-September and leaves them 11th on 23 points, one ahead of Torino who beat Bologna 2-1 in Sunday’s early match.
Giovanni Simeone gave the hosts a 22nd-minute lead with his 12th goal of a superb season for the Argentine, forcing a shot past Juan Musso from a narrow angle.
However with eight minutes until the break and after Mario Pasalic had thwacked the post, Miranchuk levelled by dancing into a shooting position and rolling home a calm finish.
And Atalanta were ahead just after the hour mark through Koopmeiners, who was lucky to see his distance effort take a massive deflection off Adrien Tameze and fly past a stranded Lorenzo Montipo in the Verona goal.
The hard-fought win will be a boost for Atalanta after they missed out on the last 16 of the Champions League following Thursday’s home defeat at the hands of Villarreal.
They will be in Monday’s draw for the Europa League play-off round after finishing third in Group F behind La Liga outfit Villarreal and Manchester United.