Milan: Mario Pasalic scored a hat-trick as Atalanta brushed aside struggling local rivals Brescia 6-2 to move second in Serie A on Tuesday.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side extended their unbeaten league run to 13 games to move six points behind leaders Juventus who visit eighth-placed Sassuolo on Wednesday.
Inter Milan and Lazio are two points behind Atalanta before they play against SPAL and Udinese respectively later this week.
Gasperini’s side have scored 93 league goals so far this season — 26 more than eight-time reigning champions Juventus.
“We don’t do it to humiliate the opponent, but we try to play our game,” said Gasperini.
“Already last year we were the best attack in the league, this year we have surpassed ourselves, scoring many goals with many different players.
“Playing in the Champions League has helped us and made us grow,” added Gasperini, whose side will play Paris St-Germain in the last eight of the Champions League next month.
“We are preparing for PSG, but also want to fight to the end in Serie A. I think the best way to be ready for August 12 will be to play these last five league games to the maximum.”
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Atalanta’s top scorer Luis Muriel, with 17 league goals this season, watched from the stands hours after the Colombian left hospital after suffering a head injury in a fall at his home.
But his absence was not felt with Croatian Pasalic running the show.
“It’s the best moment of my career,” said Pasalic after his maiden hat-trick.
“There are still five games left and we can do even better.
“We have scored more than 90 goals in Serie A, we have shown against Juventus (2-2 draw) that we can match even the strongest teams.”
Nikolas Spalek pulled a goal back for Brescia who move closer to Serie B next season.
Atalanta however are having one of the best seasons in the club’s 112-year history with a berth in the Champions League quarter-finals in their debut season.