Atalanta claim their joint-biggest Serie A win with thrashing of Udinese

After an early red card for their opponents, the Nerazzurri were able to run riot and continue their strong start to the season

Atalanta defeated Udinese 7-1 on Sunday to equal their biggest ever Serie A victory and move within three points of champions and leaders Juventus.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side collapsed from 3-0 up at Lazio last week, missing the chance to briefly top the table, and then let an early lead slip in a humbling Champions League defeat to Manchester City.

But it was Atalanta's turn to come from behind after Stefano Okaka's 11th-minute opener.

Luis Muriel netted a hat-trick to become just the second player to score at least eight times in the first nine matches of a Serie A season for Atalanta.

Josip Ilicic struck twice in a first half in which Nicholas Opoku was sent off for Udinese, while Mario Pasalic and 17-year-old debutant Amad Traore were also on target.

The Bergamo outfit matched the six-goal margin of victory from their previous record top-flight win - a 7-1 triumph over Triestina in June 1952 - and have now scored 28 goals in the league, the most at this stage of a season since AC Milan in 1992-93.

Atalanta have lost just one of their first nine league games and have now opened up a three-point gap over fourth-placed Napoli.

Despite finishing third last season and claiming an emphatic win on Sunday, Gasperini still doesn't believe his side are ready to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title. 

“No,” he told Sky Sport Italia when asked if Atalanta could challenge for the Scudetto.“Only Juventus can lose it, but then there are Inter and Napoli, as well as the other so-called big clubs like Roma and Milan, who are perhaps considered big more for what they represent than their current results.

“After nine rounds, this all just confirms it is a very difficult season for everyone at both ends of the table.

“We’re trying to use the Champions League to gain experience and it helps us become better in Serie A too. We make mistakes every now and then, but we have also been scoring regularly for 18 months and it really helps us to fight back from difficult situations, as for example we went behind today.

“If we made no mistakes at the back and kept scoring like this, then we would be even higher up the table.”

Prior to their 7-1 loss to Atalanta, Udinese had conceded just six goals all season with their previously stellar defensive record undone in just 90 minutes.