Super Eagles attacker Ademola Lookman was on target as Atalanta secured a 2-0 victory over Genoa at the Gewiss Stadium on Sunday.
Having lost 3-2 to Lazio in their last outing before the international break, Atalanta were keen to return to winning ways in Serie A to avoid losing further ground on teams around them in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification.
Despite featuring in both of Nigeria's friendlies, Lookman retained his place in the starting XI for Atalanta but struggled to impact the game early on as his end product in the final third was less than ideal on several occasions.
The 26-year-old's first real chance of the contest came seven minutes shy of half time when he was played through on goal, only to be denied by a fine save from Nicola Leali.
To further compound his misery, Lookman was booked four minutes later and to be frank, he had it coming following a series of cynical fouls.
In a similar fashion to the first half, Lookman cut a peripheral figure for the early exchanges of the second period but grew into the half as it progressed.
His eyes must have lit up just past the hour mark as he bore down on the Genoa keeper before a last-ditch tackle from Radu Dragusin saved the day.
However, there was no denying Lookman midway through the second period when he showed great resolve and balance to finish from inside the box after a scrap with Stefano Sabelli.
Lookman's joy at finding the back of the net looked to be short-lived as the referee initially disallowed the goal for a handball but after a lengthy and anxious VAR check, the goal was eventually given and Lookman could not hold back the burst of emotions.
That turned out to be his last meaningful contribution of the game following his substitution 10 minutes later for Mario Pasalic.
In Lookman's absence, Atalanta gave up a bit of their attacking potency and were prepared to see out the game with their narrow margin before Ederson made sure of the result with a stoppage-time winner.
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) October 22, 2023
Sunday's win has seen Lookman and Atalanta move up to sixth place in the Serie A table, just a point adrift of the top four.
Lookman will be looking to kick on having finally ended his goal drought
Before his opener against Genoa, Lookman was on a run of six games without a goal for club and country.
The attacker enjoyed the best goalscoring season of his career last time out but his form in front of goal this term has been relatively underwhelming.
Ademola Lookman with a big goal for Atalanta tonight 💥
His third of the season. pic.twitter.com/yS6Z0iezoq
— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) October 22, 2023
Lookman's reaction to the confirmation of his goal by the VAR was a huge sign of relief to get back on the scoresheet finally and he must now make use of this momentum to string together a hot streak in front of goal.
Lookman is next in action on Thursday when Atalanta visit the Merkur Arena to face off against Austrian Bundesliga outfit Sturm Graz in the Europa League group stage.
This article was most recently revised and updated 5 days ago