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Danilo forces draw

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Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta drew 1-1 with Juventus at home after a late injury-time equaliser from Danilo cancelled out Ruslan Malinovskyi’s wonder strike in the second half.



Atalanta came into the game not in good form with back to back defeats in league and cup while Juventus were unbeaten in 10 games. The trends looked to continue early on as Dusan Vlahovic tested Marco Sportiello early from distance after some neat passing by Paulo Dybala and Adrien Rabiot.

The Serb was again ruing a missed chance, heading wide from a Weston McKennie cross from the right channel in the 12th minute. It was Dybala who went close a couple of minutes later, firing wide after coming in from the right but the Argentine had better passing options than he perhaps thought.



Atalanta regained some of their composure and stringed together a good period of possession without threatening the Juve goal. Their first big chance came on the 25th minute from a set-piece. La Dea worked the corner short before Muriel crossed towards Djimsiti. His header fell to Marten de Roon who could not manage to keep his effort on target.

Juventus were then put under the cosh by the home side, with keeper Wojciech Szczesny lucky to remain on field and not concede after an error of judgement. The Polish keeper came out prematurely to a long ball forward, with Teun Koopmeiners getting there ahead of him. The ball looked to hit Szczesny’s arm outside the box but the VAR decided there was nothing malicious in it. The ball fell to Muriel whose weak attempt at the empty goal was cleared away by Leonardo Bonucci.



The game got a bit cagey towards the end of the half but Atalanta were more dangerous. Jeremy Boga had a couple of good half chances but was let down by his decision making and Matthijs de Ligt did well to block his two shots. The teams went into the tunnel level, neither of them threatening enough to feel hard done by.



Atalanta continued their good work after the break with de Roon lining up a shot from the edge of the box that was destined for the bottom corner but Szczesny came through for Allegri’s men with a great save.

Dybala though looked to drag Juventus back into the game by the scruff of their necks in his 200th match for the club. He went on a mazy dribbling run all the way into thr six yard box before being stopped by Sportiello and then had a sighter go just over the bar. He then played in Morata with a delightful through ball but the Spaniard could only manage to get a corner.



Vlahovic stung Sportiello’s palms again from the resulting corner, his curling snapshot being parried away by the Atalanta guardian as the game started to open up. Dybala then drove into the box before laying the ball out wide right to McKennie. The American cut it back to Rabiot whose placed shot was just the wrong side of the near post.

Gasperini sent on Joakim Maehle and Ruslan Malinovskyi to get back some of the control lost and provide fresh energy and the Bergamo side managed to even things out. Boga’s scuffed shot was nearly turned in by a sliding Koopmeiners but proved to be just a bit out of reach.

Djimsiti nearly undid their good work as his half hearted header nearly glanced into his own net from a Mattia de Sciglio corner. The resulting set-piece led to a Rabiot shot that had to be met with a strong hand from Sportiello.



It was clear that the breakthrough would come form a moment of quality and it was substitute Malinovskyi who provided it. The Ukranian drew in de Ligt into a foul, about 30 yards from goal. From the resulting free kick, Remo Freuler rolled the ball to his left and Malinovskyi met it with a thunder-strike that moved in the air before nestling into the top corner beyond a helpless Szczesny.

The attacker then nearly helped double the lead, whipping in a delightful cross from the second phase of a corner. Centre-back Djimsiti though could only help the ball onto the crossbar from point-blank range.



Juventus pushed for an equaliser and found it in injury time – Paulo Dybala proving to be the catalyst tellingly. His corner was swung into a very dangerous area and full-back Danilo rose highest to rescue a point for the Old Lady.

The two sides split the points and remained as they were at kick-off. Here are our key talking points from the match –



Gian Piero Gasperini was without Duvan Zapata and Josep Illicic for the match, both of whom are long term absentees. It made him rethink his game plan with Muriel and Boga up front, neither of whom is too physical.



The pair on the night prefer to operate in space in behind lines which forced Atalanta to play on the break. This mean they needed to be more defensively secure, giving up some of their gung-ho attitude. Koopmeiners played as a 10 instead of Pessina, Pasalic or Malinovskyi. It wasn’t until the Ukranian’s introduction that La Yea looked truly dangerous.



Paulo Dybala was playing his 200th game for Juventus and he turned in a performance for the ages. The Argentine was by far the most threatening player on the pitch and was key in getting the equaliser for the Turin side.

He has shown signs of a great link with Vlahovic, although the Serb was not at his best on the night. Dybala once again proved that he operates best when given the freedom to roam and create chances rather than as the main man. If he keeps up this level then Juventus would be frontrunners for a spot in the Champions League.



The result though left everyone unhappy with no side able to grab the impetus in the race for the top four. Juventus were hoping to put some daylight and perhaps even force themselves into the title conversation while Atalanta wanted to regain their place in the top four.

The two sides will now fight it out for the rest of the season and it looks like Italy will be the most exciting league after the top of the table picture was changes yesterday. Exciting times ahead for Calcio fans!

Ritwik Khanna
Economics student supporting FC Goa and Manchester United, in true masochistic way. Can be found reading Jonathan Wilson and Sid Lowe or planning a quirky trip in his free time.

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