HERNING: Towering Colombian striker Duvan Zapata scored one goal and set up two more as Atalanta cruised to a 4-0 victory over Midtjylland in their Champions League Group D clash in driving rain at the MCH Arena in Herning on Wednesday.
It was a tough debut for the Danish side in the Champions League group stages as they created little up front and were under constant threat in defence, with Papu Gomez, Luis Muriel and debutant Aleksey Miranchuk also on target for the Italians.
Atalanta, who had a surprise run to the quarter-finals last season, top the pool after the opening round of fixtures. Midtjylland visit Liverpool on Tuesday, while Atalanta host Ajax.
The Italians came into the game having been thumped 4-1 in Serie A at Napoli on Saturday and looked determined to erase that memory from the start as they took the game to their outgunned hosts.
Zapata broke free on the right side of the box early on but his shot from a tight angle rattled the post. He then forced an excellent save from home goalkeeper Jesper Hansen, whose fingertips denied the forward the opening goal.
The writing was on the wall though and two minutes later the striker put his side in front when a cross was cleverly headed into his path by Cristian Romero and Zapata rifled the ball past a helpless Hansen.
Atalanta doubled their advantage with a superb strike from Gomez, who collected a pass from Zapata 30 metres from goal and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
It was 3-0 before halftime as the lively Zapata's shot from the edge of the box was not held by Hansen in the wet and Muriel reacted quickest to turn home the loose ball.
Atalanta continued to threaten in the second half, with Miranchuk adding a superb fourth goal on his debut when he curled the ball into the corner of the net.