Federico Ceccherini’s header set Hellas Verona on their way to a richly-merited 2-1 victory over Atalanta at the Gewiss Stadium – still an unhappy hunting ground for ‘La Dea’, who have picked up almost 65 per cent of their points away from home this season.
It was the first time Atalanta and Verona had ever met on a Monday, and Jérémie Boga started at a manic pace as the visitors’ defence struggled to cope with the slippery left-winger. Ruslan Malinovskyi and Duván Zapata had the best chances for ‘La Dea’, the former forcing Lorenzo Montipò into a fine close-range save early on and the latter swiping a volley just past the post, but Verona carried more potency going the other way.
Darko Lazović struck the post from a tight angle midway through the first half for ‘I Gialloblu’, before Ceccherini went one better and nodded home Giovanni Simeone’s chip to notch his first goal for the club and break a mammoth four-year Serie A scoring drought.
Verona were granted some good fortune to extend their lead after the restart when Ivan Ilić saw his one-on-one opportunity saved, only for the ball to cannon off the unfortunate Merih Demiral and into the net. Substitute Kevin Lasagna almost rubbed salt into the wounds when his shot struck the post late on, but Atalanta halved the deficit through Giorgio Scalvini, albeit in vain, as the teenager confidently nodded in his first senior goal.
While a well-earned three points sees Igor Tudor’s Verona hop up to ninth, Atalanta fell to their third consecutive Serie A defeat for the first time during Gian Piero Gasperini’s six-year stewardship. The performance was indicative of a team licking their wounds after a painful UEFA Europa League exit, although fans may hold out hope for a late top-six push once a trio of key players return from injury.