Atalanta's Mario Pasalic got the winner within seconds of coming off the bench as they took a huge step towards Champions League qualification by beating Roma 2-1 in Serie A on Saturday. Edin Dzeko fired the fifth-placed visitors in front at the end of the first half, but Atalanta, who are fourth, found a deserved equaliser through Jose Palomino early in the second. However, Pasalic stole the show in the 59th minute by curling a sensational strike into the top corner 19 seconds after coming on as a substitute — the fastest goal by a Serie A substitute since March 2015, when Levan Mchedlidze scored for Empoli against Sassuolo in just 14 seconds. The win sees Gian Piero Gasperini's side take control in the race for a top-four finish as Atalanta have 45 points, six ahead of Roma with a better head-to-head record than the capital club. "We've gained the kind of experience now to know we can get back into the Champions League. We can fight it out with anyone," Atalanta coach Gasperini said after match. "Roma aren't out of it yet, as they are very strong especially at home, but we have strong belief that we can finish ahead of them." Roma had lost three of their previous four games and were soon on the back foot as Pau Lopez was forced into a good save from Alejandro Gomez, Josip Ilicic fired wide and Rafael Toloi's overhead kick skimmed the outside of the post. But the visitors pounced on an Atalanta error to take the lead on the brink of half-time as Palomino miscontrolled a back pass, allowing Dzeko to gather the loose ball before powering forward and firing a low finish into the bottom corner. The Argentine made amends for his error five minutes into the second half by tapping in the equaliser from close range, after Berat Djimsiti rose unchallenged at a corner to direct a header towards the defender at the back post. "There are still 14 games to go. I still think it's possible to finish fourth," said Roma coach Paulo Fonseca. Earlier, 18th-placed Genoa recorded their first away win of the season with a 3-0 victory at Bologna that moved them within a point of the safety zone as the hosts finished with nine men following the expulsions of Jerdy Schouten and Stefano Denswil. Lecce also boosted their survival hopes by moving above Sampdoria into 16th place with their third consecutive league victory, defeating SPAL 2-1 at the Stadio Via del Mare on Luigi Di Biagio's debut as coach of Serie A's rock-bottom side.
Football SERIE A