BERGAMO, Italy: Free-scoring Atalanta continued where they left off before the novel coronavirus stoppage by thumping Sassuolo 4-1 in Serie A on Sunday (Jun 21) as football returned to Bergamo, one of the Italian cities worst hit by the pandemic.
Duvan Zapata netted twice as the Serie A top scorers took their tally to 74 goals in 26 games while Sassuolo's Mehdi Bourabia scored at both ends with a bizarre own goal and a late consolation from a free kick.
Atalanta stayed fourth with 51 points having had their coach Gian Piero Gasperini sent off for dissent in the second half.
At the height of the coronavirus outbreak, Bergamo's hospitals were overwhelmed by infected people and, with morgues unable to keep up, convoys of army trucks carrying away the dead became a chilling symbol of the global pandemic.
"It's a very important victory, when you start again after a long time it's inevitable to have doubts but we overcame them by playing a great game," said Gasperini.
He added that all of his players had remained in Bergamo throughout the crisis "with great attachment to the city and conviction that sooner or later we would restart, but psychologically it was hard and long".
Berat Djimsiti put Atalanta ahead in the 16th minute, slinking in unnoticed to score after Mattia Caldara headed down a corner.
Zapata had an effort disallowed three minutes later when the VAR officials spotted that the ball hit Robin Gosens' fist in the build-up.
Not to be denied, the Colombian turned the ball in from a Gosens header in the 31st minute although there was another long wait before VAR confirmed the goal.
The hosts were gifted their third when Gosens, a constant menace, pulled the ball back into the area, goalkeeper Andrea Consigli got a hand to it but it rebounded off Bourabia and into the net.
Zapata scored the fourth with a simple header from a perfectly floated Gomez cross in the 66th and Bourabia atoned for his own goal by curling in a free kick in stoppage time.
Italian Serie A results:
Atalanta 4 Sassuolo 1
Inter Milan 2 Sampdoria 1