Immobile on target as Lazio, Atalanta win Serie A openers
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Milan (AFP) –
Ciro Immobile picked up where he left off as Lazio got their season off the mark with a 2-0 win at Cagliari on Saturday while Atalanta kicked off their campaign with a 4-2 comeback against Torino.
Italy forward Immobile -- top Serie A scorer last season with 36 goals -- grabbed Lazio's second goal in the last quarter of an hour in Sardinia.
Lazio return to Champions League football this season after finishing fourth in Serie A just behind Atalanta.
Both Lazio and Atalanta's scheduled season opener last week was pushed backed because of the Bergamo side's Champions League last eight appearance in Portugal.
The two teams will go head-to-head in Rome next Wednesday.
"Today we have shown that we are still that tight group that can do well," said Immobile.
"Players have arrived who will give us a lift on the pitch and in the changing room, but the group is the same and there is no lack of motivation."
Lazio had Adam Marusic to thank for their two goals. After setting up Manuel Lazzari for the opener after four minutes, the Montenegrin again broke down the left flank to serve up the pass for Immobile after 74 minutes.
In Turin, Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta proved they had lost none of their attacking style from last season with the most goals scored in the Italian top flight including 7-0 against Torino last January in Turin.
"We are stronger than last year," warned Gasperini.
"You learn a lot from playing in Europe, and despite the difficulties we have suffered, we haven't given up.
"This year some valuable players have arrived and if we are lucky enough to recover (Josip) Ilicic we will be even stronger.
"It will be a season during which I will be able to rotate more players, last year I had a smaller squad available."
- Gomez century -
Andrea Belotti had put the hosts on the scoresheet first, connecting with a Tomas Rincon pass to rifle in after 11 minutes, the first of a double for the Torino captain.
But Atalanta hit back two minutes later with Argentinian Papu Gomez rifling in from long range for his 100th career goal on his 200th Serie A appearance for Atalanta, leaving Salvatore Sirigu with no chance in the Torino goal.
Gomez then set up Luis Muriel for the second after 21 minutes, with Hans Hateboer grabbing a third after 42 minutes.
Belotti's header rekindled hopes going into the break but Atalanta dominated on returning, Muriel setting up Marten De Roon on 55 minutes to hand new Torino coach Marco Giampaolo his second defeat in as many games.
"It was the worst opponent we could have met," said Giampaolo.
"It's difficult even for the most successful teams to face Atalanta, while we're trying to regain self-esteem."
Promoted Benevento came from two goals down to beat Sampdoria 3-2.
Visitors Benevento were trailing after 18 minutes in Genoa following goals from Fabio Quagliarella and Omar Colley.
But Luca Caldirola hit back with a brace after 33 and 72 minutes with Marco Sau sealing the victory two minutes from time.
Inter Milan open their campaign later Saturday against Fiorentina with a maximum 1,000 spectators allowed in all stadiums in Italy because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrea Pirlo's Juventus face their first major test this season Sunday when the Serie A champions tackle Roma in the Stadio Olimpico.
© 2020 AFP