Serie A Roundup: Atalanta beats Empoli to boost Champions League hopes

Atalanta's Marten de Roon, right, fights for the ball with Empoli's Tommaso Baldanzi during the Serie A soccer match between Atalanta BC and FC Empoli at the Gewiss stadium in Bergamo, Italy, Friday March 17, 2023. (Spada/LaPresse via AP)

MILAN — Substitute Rasmus Højlund scored late to help Atalanta fight back to beat Empoli 2-1 in Serie A on Friday and boost its chances of qualifying for the Champions League.

Højlund scored the winner just seven minutes after coming off the bench. Marten de Roon had cancelled out Tyronne Ebuehi’s opener for Empoli.

The victory snapped Atalanta’s winless run and lifted it to within three points of fourth-placed AC Milan, which visits Udinese on Saturday.

Empoli remained nine points above the relegation zone.

Atalanta had lost three of its past four matches, drawing the other, and lost ground in a tight race for the Champions League spots.

It dominated but Empoli took a surprise lead on the stroke of halftime. Atalanta defender Matteo Ruggeri intercepted a cross for Ebuehi but his attempted clearance struck Empoli forward Francesco Caputo and rebounded back to Ebuehi, who tucked it in from point-blank range.

De Roon leveled in the 58th by heading in a cross from Ruggeri and notching Atalanta’s first goal in almost a month.

Atalanta snatched all three points when, four minutes from time, Mario Pašalić mishit a shot but the ball fell to Højlund to fire it home.


Sassuolo beat relegation-threatened Spezia 1-0 for a fourth straight victory.

Domenico Berardi converted a penalty in the 71st after handball by Spezia defender Kelvin Amian.

Berardi also hit the crossbar in the first half, while Sassuolo midfielder Abdou Harroui hit the right post late on as the home side had several chances to extend their lead.

Spezia, which surprisingly beat Inter Milan last week, remained five points above the drop zone.

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