Atalanta hail new hero in Koopmeiners

 

Atalanta's Dutch midfielder Teun Koopmeiners (L) fights for the ball with Torino's Swiss defender Ricardo Rodriguez during the Italian Serie A football match between Atalanta and Torino at The Atleti Azzurri d'Italia Stadium in Bergamo on September 1, 2022. 

On the night that Atalanta bid goodbye to emblematic striker Josip Ilicic, the overachieving Bergamo club may have found a new star.

Teun Koopmeiners scored all three goals in a 3-1 win over Torino as Atalanta moved level on points with Serie A leaders Roma on Thursday.

Koopmeiners now has four goals in two matches after also scoring in a 1-0 win at Hellas Verona over the weekend.

The 24-year-old Netherlands midfielder, in his second season at Atalanta, has already matched his output of four goals in all of the 2021-22 campaign.

The last Dutchman to score a hat-trick in Serie A had been the great Marco van Basten, who had a four-goal performance for AC Milan three decades ago.

Atalanta, who are not playing in Europe this season, remain unbeaten and trail Roma only on goal difference.

Before kickoff, the 34-year-old Ilicic was feted by teammates and fans after the striker terminated his contract with Atalanta by mutual consent.

Ilicic scored all four goals when Atalanta won 4-3 at Valencia in a second-leg match to reach the Champions League quarter-finals in 2020 just as the team's home, Bergamo, was becoming the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

Afterwards, Ilicic donated the game ball to Bergamo's hospital.

Having converted a penalty in first-half added time, Koopmeiners added another two minutes after the break when he controlled the ball outside the area and placed a low shot through traffic that took a slight deflection on its way in.

After Nikola Vlasic pulled one back for Torino, Koopmeiners sealed it with another penalty just inside the right post.

Also on Thursday, Bologna and Salernitana drew 1-1.

Boulaye Dia scored a late equaliser for Salernitana following a penalty from Marko Arnautovic.

 

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