MILAN: Captain Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gómez scored a brace and set up two more as Atalanta gave newcomers Frosinone a tough introduction to life in Serie A with a 4-0 home win in the final match of the opening round of the 2018-2019 season on Monday.
The Argentine international scored in either half to bring his tally of Serie A goals to 50 in his eighth season, with on-loan Chelsea midfielder Mario Pašalić getting his first goal for his new team and Dutch defender Hans Hateboer also finding the net.
It was perfect preparation for Atalanta ahead of their game against FC Copenhagen in the Europa League play-off round on Thursday.
“The season has started in the best way,” said Gómez after Atalanta achieved their first opening-day league win in a decade.
“In recent years, we have struggled a bit at the beginning. I’m happy also for the fact that I have reached 50 goals in Serie A – a goal that was important to me.”
Gómez tapped in the opener after 14 minutes in Bergamo with the hosts doubling their lead three minutes after the break when he curled in a cross for Hateboer to volley in.
Gambian teenager Musa Barrow almost got a third but fired just wide, before the omnipresent Gomez orchestrated another goal with the 30-year-old providing a low cross for Pašalić to score.
But Frosinone goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, on loan from Atalanta, limited the damage with a save to deny Colombian Duvan Zapata his first Serie A goal for the Bergamo side since joining on loan from Sampdoria.
Gómez completed his brace two minutes into injury time against Frosinone, a side from near Rome, playing in Serie A for the second time after 2014-15 when they were relegated after one season.
The top three from last year’s campaign all won their opening round of matches at the weekend.
Champions Juventus, with new superstar signing Cristiano Ronaldo making his debut, won 3-2 at Chievo with runners-up Napoli fighting back to win 2-1 at Lazio.
But Inter Milan, fourth last season, suffered an early upset, losing 1-0 to Sassuolo.
Games involving both Genoa teams were postponed because of the deadly bridge collapse in the port city.
Sampdoria had been due to host Fiorentina and Genoa to travel to AC Milan.