Atalanta beats Crotone 1-0 to move 4th in Serie A
By DANIELLA MATAR
Feb. 18, 2017
MILAN (AP) — Atalanta maintained its push for a European spot by defeating relegation-threatened Crotone 1-0 in Serie A on Saturday.
It was more difficult than Atalanta perhaps expected but Andrea Conti scored to propel Atalanta into fourth spot, one point above Lazio and three above Inter Milan, which visits Bologna on Sunday.
Atalanta is three points below the Champions League qualifying spots. It faces third-placed Napoli next weekend, although the southern side could have a six-point advantage by then if it wins at Chievo Verona on Sunday.
"If we beat Napoli we would be playing for a spot in the Champions League. At the moment our direct battles will be against Fiorentina and Inter. If we manage to pass these exams well, we will be on course for objective two," Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini said.
Crotone had a late goal ruled out for offside and remained 19th, nine points from safety.
It took more than half an hour for the first shot of the match. The hosts looked more determined after the break and broke the deadlock three minutes in.
Andrea Petagna rolled across from the left, and Conti snuck in behind a defender to tap it in at the back post.
"I've run out of adjectives to describe how good Andrea is," Gasperini said.
Franck Kessie should have doubled Atalanta's lead in the 80th minute as he burst between two players in the area and chipped Crotone goalkeeper Alex Cordaz, but his effort went inches wide of the left post. Papu Gomez also curled a shot off the crossbar.
Atalanta was almost made to pay for its missed opportunities as Crotone thought it equalized, four minutes from time, when goalkeeper Etrit Berisha beat away Andrea Barberis' free kick and Aleandro Rosi headed in the rebound, but he was correctly flagged offside.
EMPOLI 1, LAZIO 2
Lazio needed a stroke of fortune to keep up its bid for a European place despite dominating at Empoli.
Empoli took the lead against the run of play in the 67th minute with a stunning strike from Rade Krunic, the ball swerving wickedly into the top left corner from 30 yards.
But Krunic swiftly went from hero to villain as, less than a minute later, he deflected Felipe Anderson's cross into the path of Ciro Immobile, who slotted it into the bottom lead corner.
And Lazio scored the winner thanks to another deflection when Keita Balde Diao's effort went in off Andrea Costa's arm.
"What was good was the reaction of the team: After going behind we could have collapsed, but we reacted immediately," Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said.
It was Lazio's first win since 2005 at Stadio Castellani, where it had lost on its past three visits in Serie A.