MILAN, May 12: Unheralded Atalanta moved third in Serie A with a 2-1 win over Genoa edging the Bergamo side closer to a first-ever Champions League qualification with two games left this season.
Musa Barrow and Timothy Castagne�s second-half goals on Saturday sent Atalanta two points clear of Inter Milan, who play already-relegated Chievo on Sunday.
But AC Milan responded with Hakan Calhanoglu heading in the only goal against Fiorentina to boost Gennaro Gattuso�s team�s hopes of a return to elite European football for the first time since 2013-2014.
AC Milan are fifth, one point behind Inter, with Roma a further three points adrift in sixth before they host champions Juventus on Sunday.
�Today�s win was really important, as the closer we get to the finish line, the more decisive each point becomes,� said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.
�Mathematically, we have only a few points left to go, but it also puts us in a better state of mind going into the Coppa Italia final.
�The team has been extraordinary in terms of mentality.� Juventus and Napoli have already qualified for next season�s Champions League, but behind them the scramble is frenetic in the chase for the two remaining berths.
Castagne and Duvan Zapata both had goals ruled out for offside in the first 20 minutes of the game at Sassuolo�s Mapei Stadium, with Atalanta�s home ground undergoing work.
But 20-year-old Gambian Barrow broke through immediately after being substituted on at the break for his first goal this season, with Belgian Castagne adding a second on 53 minutes, finishing off Berat Djimsiti�s low cross.
Goran Pandev pulled a goal back for Genoa one minute from time, but the fightback came too late as Atalanta extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches.
Atalanta�s next two league games are against Juventus in Turin and back at the Mapei Stadium against Sassuolo on May 26.
The victory is a boost for Gasperini�s side who head to Rome on Wednesday to play the Coppa Italia final against Lazio. � AFP