Milan (AFP) – Atalanta were held to a goalless draw against promoted Spezia on Saturday days before their Champions League trip to Liverpool as Serie A rivals Lazio got back winning 2-0 under torrential rain at Crotone.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side were wasteful in front of goal, settling for a second consecutive draw as they failed to find the net for the first time this season.
Atalanta are fifth, equal on 14 points with sixth-placed Lazio after eight games.
Both are three points behind Serie A leaders AC Milan who travel to third-placed Napoli on Sunday.
“Technically it was not a good performance but there are no easy matches and the team did what they had to do,” said Gasperini, who left some players at home a day after they returned from international duty.
“I always thought that the national team was good for players, that it was a stimulus. But it has never happened that they arrive on Friday and play on Saturday.
“Eight players returned, I left four of them at home.”
Germany’s Robin Gosens missed several chances to break the deadlock, having a goal ruled offside after an hour in Cesena.
Diego Farias hit the woodwork for Spezia with Duvan Zapata denied by the post before the break.
The visitors pushed to score after the break with Gosens finishing off a Zapata headed cross after 56 minutes, but the Colombian was ruled to have been offside.
Spezia, in 12th, could thank goalkeeper Ivan Provedel for the point with a double save from Mario Pasalic and Gosens, with the Croatian denied again late.
– Immobile makes a splash –
In Calabria, Ciro Immobile scored on his return from coronavirus isolation with his diving header putting Lazio ahead after 21 minutes on a waterlogged pitch in southern Italy.
It was the fourth Serie A goal in six games this term for the top scorer in Europe last season, who had missed Lazio’s previous two league games.
The Italy international was also involved in the second goal, sending Joaquin Correa through just before the hour mark as the rain briefly subsided.
Argentine Correa fired in his first league goal this season from a tight angle through the legs of Crotone goalkeeper Alex Cordaz.
“Ciro’s a leader, scoring a very important goal in a difficult match,” said coach Simone Inzaghi, whose side host Zenit Saint Petersburg in the Champions League next week.
“We had problems with Covid and injuries. Today we had important players out like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic… those who replaced them gave their best.
“I’m happy for Correa, he scored in the Champions League and today in the league.
“Let’s not forget that he arrived on Friday after two days of travel and with jetlag. I asked him for this huge sacrifice and he repaid me today.”
Crotone fell to their sixth defeat in eight games as they remain winless in their return to the top flight after two seasons in Serie B.
Champions Juventus, in seventh position, host Cagliari later Saturday looking to close the gap on AC Milan.
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