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Danilo leaves it late to earn precious point for Juventus at Atalanta – Reuters

ROME, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Juventus defender Danilo headed home a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a 1-1 Serie A draw at Atalanta on Sunday and earn a point that could prove crucial to the Bianconeri’s top-four ambitions.

The Brazil international nodded in from a corner in the 92nd minute, cancelling out a long-range thunderbolt from Ruslan Malinovskyi that had put Atalanta on the verge of reclaiming fourth place.

Both sides had their chances in a gripping encounter in Bergamo, as Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello denied Dusan Vlahovic with a superb save and Hans Hateboer hit the bar for the hosts.

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The January signing of Vlahovic from Fiorentina led to some claims that Juve could still be in the title race, but coach Massimiliano Allegri ruled that out, with his side now nine points behind leaders AC Milan.

“That was already official before tonight, there are too many points to make up on the three teams above us,” Allegri told DAZN.

“We would need to always win, it’s impossible. We must focus on fourth place and improving our performances.”

Juve remain fourth on 46 points, two ahead of Atalanta, but Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have a game in hand.

Allegri claimed before his side’s trip to Bergamo that it would not be decisive in the top-four race.

But with 14 minutes to go, Juve were staring down the barrel at a defeat that would have left them one point behind Atalanta, having played a game more.

Atalanta’s lead came in extraordinary circumstances in the 76th minute, as a free-kick was laid off to Malinovskyi and the substitute smashed a powerful dipping shot into the roof of the net from 25 yards.

It was a huge goal for the hosts, but they could not hold on as Danilo rose well to fire a bullet header into the top corner late on and extend Atalanta’s winless run to five games in all competitions.

Both sides threatened before the late flurry of goals, with Vlahovic drawing an impressive save from Sportiello after two minutes.

Wojciech Szczesny took a big risk when he rushed out of his box and collided with Teun Koopmeiners, but Luis Muriel’s shot at an unguarded net was blocked and the Juve goalkeeper went unpunished.

Matthijs de Ligt twice threw himself in front of dangerous Jeremie Boga efforts before the break, while Vlahovic again had a curling effort palmed away by Sportiello early in the second half.

Malinovskyi’s piledriver eventually broke the deadlock and Hateboer was inches away when he met the Ukrainian’s cross at the back post and volleyed off the bar from close range.

The wing-back was made to pay for his inaccuracy when Paulo Dybala whipped a corner onto Danilo’s head at the death.

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Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Pritha Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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