Soccer-Atalanta clinch Champions League spot with Genoa win


Soccer Football - Serie A - Genoa v Atalanta - Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy - May 15, 2021 Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini speaks to substitutes during half time REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

(Reuters) - Atalanta secured Champions League qualification for a third consecutive season with a 4-3 win over Genoa on Saturday that left the Bergamo club second in Serie A.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have 78 points, six more than fifth-placed Juventus who have two games remaining, but they are guaranteed to finish ahead of the Turin club thanks to a better head-to-head record.

Atalanta will finish as runners-up in Serie A if they beat Milan at home on the final day of the season next Sunday, marking their highest finish ever.

Before then, Gasperini has the chance to win his first trophy as coach and guide Atalanta to their first Coppa Italia triumph since 1963 when they face Juventus in the cup final on Wednesday.

Duvan Zapata, Ruslan Malinovskyi and Robin Gosens were on target to give the visitors a comfortable lead by halftime against 14th-placed Genoa, who have already secured survival.

The hosts improved after the break as an Eldor Shomurodov strike and Goran Pandev penalty either side of a neat Mario Pasalic finish reduced the deficit, but Shomurodov’s second goal of the afternoon came too late as Genoa fell just short of an unexpected comeback.

Elsewhere, Spezia secured their Serie A safety with a 4-1 win against fellow strugglers Torino.

The Ligurian club, who were promoted to Serie A for the first time last season, were 2-0 up at halftime thanks to a Riccardo Saponara strike and M’Bala Nzola penalty.

Andrea Belotti pulled one back from the spot for Toro early in the second half, but an Nzola volley and Martin Erlic header secured a comfortable win.

Spezia are 15th with 38 points, seven clear of 18th-placed Benevento on 31 points, but Torino are still at risk after a miserable week.

Davide Nicola's side were thrashed 7-0 by Milan on Wednesday and have 35 points, but they have two games left, the first at Lazio on Tuesday.

Benevento have a chance to cut the gap to one point when they host relegated Crotone on Sunday, before a potentially decisive final-day meeting against Torino next Sunday.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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