Josip Iličić appears to be back to his best after inspiring Atalanta to a 4-1 win at Benevento in Serie A on Saturday.
Iličić scored Atalanta’s opener, hit the post and had a hand in another two goals — for Rafael Tolói and Duván Zapata — after Marco Sau’s equalizer. Luis Muriel netted a spectacular fourth for Atalanta.
Personal problems caused Iličić to miss several months last year.
Atalanta moved into fourth spot. It is six points behind league leader AC Milan, which hosts relegation-threatened Torino later. Genoa was also playing against Bologna later.
Benevento remained 10th.
Atalanta has made a great start to 2021, having scored eight goals in its two matches and conceded just one.
Iličić put on a masterclass at Benevento and he set up a couple of chances before opening the scoring in the 30th minute. The Slovenia midfielder gathered the ball on the right and cut inside, dribbling past three defenders before firing into the bottom near corner.
Atalanta was dominating and Iličić almost doubled his tally shortly before halftime but he sent a free kick crashing off the left post.
Benevento leveled five minutes after the break as halftime substitute Christian Pastina, who was making his Serie A debut, lifted a ball over the top for Sau to slide in at the back post.
Atalanta all but secured the win with two quickfire goals provided by Iličić. In the 69th, Iličić burst into the box following a quick one-two and although his effort was parried by Lorenzo Montipò, Tolói turned in the rebound. Two minutes later, a counterattack down the right saw Iličić cross in for Zapata to volley into the bottom left corner.
Muriel was sent on shortly after and he curled a fantastic strike into the top right corner four minutes from time for his sixth goal in five matches.
BALLARDINI BESTS BOLOGNA
Genoa moved out of the relegation zone after beating Bologna 2-0.
Bologna dominated possession but struggled to create anything of note. Genoa midfielder Miha Zajc and Mattia Destro scored.
Genoa moved two points above 18th-placed Torino. New coach Davide Ballardini has won two of his four matches in charge since replacing Rolando Maran last month.
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