Atalanta are in real trouble at half-time, as Cagliari dominated the first half, took the lead with an own goal and Josip Ilicic was sent off for a reaction foul.
This was a surprising showdown for third place, with only three points separating them going into the rainy Gewiss Stadium. Duvan Zapata was still out of action and Marten de Roon suspended, while the Sardinians missed Valter Birsa, Luca Ceppitelli, Alessio Cragno, Leonardo Pavoletti and banned Luca Pellegrini.
It was a very aggressive start from the visitors and Giovanni Simeone stung Pierluigi Gollini’s gloves at the near post within three minutes, then nobody was able to get the final touch on a Charalampos Lykogiannis corner that flashed across the six-yard box.
Gollini and Berat Djimsiti combined for a decisive block as Marko Rog went clear on a through ball, while Timothy Castagne’s volley flashed just wide.
Castagne was more important at the other end, making a decisive block from 12 yards on Joao Pedro.
The Cagliari opener was coming and arrived after 32 minutes when a free kick took a double deflection, the final one off Mario Pasalic, to ricochet into the far bottom corner.
Papu Gomez thought he’d equalised when unleashing a scorcher from distance that bounced off the crossbar, hit Robin Olsen on the back of the head and ricocheted over. Usually in these situations, it strikes the goalkeeper’s head and goes into the net.
Moments later, Atalanta went down to 10 men thanks to a moment of madness from Josip Ilicic. The Slovenian was wrestling with Lykogiannis on the touchline and had already gone off the field when he kicked the back of the defender’s leg in a reaction foul. Ilicic realised immediately what he had done and walked away without even protesting.
Atalanta 0-1 Cagliari (Half-Time)
Pasalic og 32 (C)
Atalanta: Gollini; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Castagne, Pasalic, Freuler, Gosens; Gomez; Ilicic, Muriel
Cagliari: Olsen; Cacciatore, Pisacane, Klavan, Lykogiannis; Castro, Oliva, Rog; Nainggolan; Joao Pedro, Simeone
Sent off: Ilicic 39 (A)
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