Gaston Pereiro pulled Cagliari out of the Serie A relegation zone on Sunday with a brace of goals that secured a shock 2-1 win at 10-man Atalanta.
Uruguay international Pereiro earned Walter Mazzarri’s side their third win in five league matches to move them up to 17th, two points ahead of Venezia who host title-chasing Napoli later on Sunday afternoon.
The 26-year-old gave Cagliari a surprise lead four minutes after half-time in Bergamo, and was crucial to Atalanta going a man down when he was brought down by onrushing goalkeeper Juan Musso just moments later.
Fourth-placed Atalanta, who will now drop out of the Champions League positions if Juventus beat Verona on Sunday night, pulled level through Jose Luis Palomino in the 64th minute.
However the hopeful home fans were silenced again four minutes later when Pereiro rolled home the winner from Raoul Bellanova’s low cross.
It was an impressive performance from Pereiro, who had scored just once before Sunday’s match and was leading an attack without suspended Joao Pedro and injured Leonardo Pavoletti.
Atalanta meanwhile have a game in hand but also have a fight on their hands to keep Champions League football after previously looking like title contenders.
They host Juventus next weekend and will have to do without Duvan Zapata for that match and their Italian Cup tie with Fiorentina, with the Colombia forward pulling up just 14 minutes after coming off the bench for his first appearance of 2022.