Zapata nets hat trick as Atalanta puts on show in win over Lecce

Atalanta's Duvan Zapata celebrates after scoring his side's 4th goal during the Serie A soccer match between Lecce and Atalanta, at the Via del Mare Stadium in Lecce, Italy, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (Donato Fasano/LaPresse via AP)

MILAN — On a day when one of Serie A’s biggest matches was postponed, Atalanta offered a spectacle of its own for its travelling fans, who had their temperatures checked before watching Atalanta rout Lecce 7-2 Sunday.

Duvan Zapata scored a hat trick for the visitors.

Despite the biggest clusters of coronavirus infections being in the Lombardy region, where Atalanta is based, fans were allowed to travel to the match in the south.

Atalanta had sold more than 200 tickets but only around 30 fans made the trip and they had their temperatures taken before entering the stadium by medics wearing protective face masks and gloves.

On the field, Lecce had come back from two goals down to make it 2-2 at halftime but Atalanta put on even more of a show after the break.

It was the third time this season that Atalanta had scored seven goals, with the other two coming against Udinese and Torino. It also scored five against AC Milan and Parma.

Atalanta is three points above fifth-place Roma, which won 4-3 at Cagliari in the only other match Sunday. Lecce remained three points above the relegation zone.

Atalanta opened the scoring in somewhat bizarre fashion in the 17th minute as, under no pressure, Lecce defender Giulio Donati headed a corner into his own net.

Zapata headed in another Atalanta corner five minutes later but Riccardo Saponara pulled one back for Lecce in the 29th and Donati scored at the right end five minutes from halftime.

However, the floodgates opened after the break as Josip Ilicic restored Atalanta’s lead two minutes after the restart and Zapata scored two in eight minutes to make it 5-2 in the 62nd.

Luis Muriel didn’t celebrate after scoring against his former team three minutes from time. Fellow substitute Ruslan Malinovskyi capped a great day for Atalanta in stoppage time.

Five Serie A soccer games scheduled for this weekend were postponed on Saturday in an attempt to contain the spread of a virus outbreak. They included Juventus’ home game against Inter Milan — a match known as the Derby d’Italia, or Italy’s derby.

There have been 29 deaths from the COVID-19 illness in Italy and more than 1,100 people have tested positive, almost all in the country’s north.

FIRST GOALS FOR KALINIC

Nikola Kalinic scored his first two goals for Roma and set up another as the capital side fought back from a goal down.

João Pedro showed impressive skill to give Cagliari the lead in the 28th, bringing down a ball over the top on his thigh and chipping it over Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

But former Roma defender Luca Pellegrini gifted his old side the equalizer seconds later as he knocked a cross straight to Kalinic, who headed in for his first goal since he joined on loan from Atletico Madrid in the off-season.

Kalinic doubled his tally three minutes from halftime and set up Justin Kluivert for his side’s third in the 64th.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan restored Roma’s two-goal advantage after Gaston Pereiro had pulled one back for Cagliari.

But João Pedro headed home the rebound after his 89th-minute penalty was saved to set up a nervy finale.

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