Atalanta were at their entertaining best on Saturday and beat AC Milan 3-0 at San Siro to open up the Serie A title race. Cristian Romero, Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata got the goals as the Bergamo outfit picked up all three points to move up to fourth in the table. Milan remain top by two points after Inter Milan were held goalless by Udinese but the likes of Juventus and SSC Napoli have the chance to make up ground with two games in hand.
Although it was not a critical blow to their title chances in terms of the tangible impact, the mental damage that this result could do to Stefano Pioli's men is significant. Milan were not just beaten, they were devastated by Atalanta's attack and consequently were unable to produce of their own going forward. The hosts shaded possession but that was about it and the visitors' setup does not require copious amounts of the ball. Atalanta were far superior in attack and punished Milan three times when it could have been more and that will serve as a warning to their upcoming opponents.
This season, La Dea have struggled to recreate last campaign's high-octane performances as consistently and Gasperini's men have looked fatigued at times -- notably in the UEFA Champions League. However, this was a throwback to the pure attacking mastery on display last term and Zapata as well as Ilicic were central to the result.
Milan's talisman suffered a quiet outing as he was put in the shade by a superior Atalanta side who cut off the supply line to the hosts' usually formidable forward unit. Two shots on target all match is not the sort of numbers that Pioli's side are used to putting up this season and their inability to give Ibrahimovic the service he needs to thrive hurt them.
While Zapata and Ilicic regularly grab the headlines, this time it was Cristian Romero who played a starring role. The Argentine, on loan from Juventus, opened the scoring from a Robin Gosens assist and turned provider for Zapata towards the end of the encounter. The 22-year-old, who was at Genoa before, with an impressive display that his parent club will no doubt have appreciated.
Not only was this a missed chance for Milan, but it was also a squandered opportunity for Inter as well after their 0-0 draw away at Udinese. A win for Antonio Conte's men would have changed the complexion of the title race just days after they beat Juventus but instead they failed to break down the Friuli outfit's defense and had to settle for a meagre point.