Atalanta held 1-1 at Verona, Milan routs Bologna 5-1

MILAN (AP) — Atalanta’s push for second spot was hampered by a 1-1 draw at Hellas Verona in Serie A on Saturday.

Duván Zapata took advantage of a mistake to give Atalanta the lead in the 50th minute but Matteo Pessina — who is on loan from Atalanta — leveled nine minutes later.

The result left Atalanta level on 71 points with second-place Inter Milan, which visits Roma on Sunday. Italian league leader Juventus has a six-point advantage and hosts fourth-place Lazio on Monday.

“In the whole of the second half of the season, we’ve been going at a rhythm worthy of title winners, if every once in a while we get two draws that’s fine, these aren’t the games to have regrets over,” Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini said.

“The title isn’t our aim at the moment, because to make it possible something extraordinary has to happen, for us but also for Juventus. It’s over the first half of the season that we can have regrets.”

Atalanta had won 11 of its last 13 league games — drawing the other two — and beat Brescia 6-2 midweek but it struggled to break Verona down.

Atalanta eventually broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half when Koray Günter lost the ball and Zapata rushed in, used his strength to hold off the Verona defender, and fired into the bottom corner.

It was Zapata’s third goal in as many matches.

But Verona was back on level terms shortly after when Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini could only parry Amir Rrahmani’s strike and Pessina fired in the rebound.

Mario Pašalić almost won it for Atalanta in stoppage time but volleyed a cross inches wide of the left post.

DOMINANT MILAN

An emphatic AC Milan performance saw it humiliate Bologna 5-1 to strengthen its chances of qualifying for the Europa League.

Alexis Saelemaekers and Ismaël Bennacer both scored their first goals for Milan and Takehiro Tomiyasu did so for Bologna.

Milan moved into sixth, three points above Napoli, which hosts relegation-threatened Udinese on Sunday.

Milan dominated from the start and should have scored more. It took the lead in the 10th minute when Theo Hernández ran onto Ante Rebić’s backheeled flick and pulled the ball back for Saelemaekers to slot home.

Bologna gifted Milan the second as goalkeeper Łukasz Skorupski could only kick Riccardo Orsolini’s poor back pass straight at Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who thumped it into the roof of the net.

Franck Kessié hit the post for Milan before Tomiyasu pulled one back for Bologna on the stroke of halftime with a stunning strike into the top right corner.

But Bennacer restored Milan’s two-goal advantage four minutes after the break and Zlatan Ibrahimović set up Rebić for the fourth eight minutes later.

Davide Calabria sealed a great night for Milan in stoppage time.

GOALLESS STREAK ENDED

Sassuolo dominated but could only manage a 1-1 draw at 10-man Cagliari, which scored for the first time in five matches.

The visitors created plenty of chances but put only one of them away when Francesco Caputo was left unmarked to head in at the back post after a corner was deflected toward him in the 12th minute.

Cagliari had to play most of the second half with 10 men after defender Andrea Carboni was shown a second yellow card and sent off just three minutes after the break.

However, João Pedro equalized against the run of play following a one-two with Marko Rog.

It ended Cagliari’s goalless streak of 467 minutes.

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