Serie A club Atalanta completely outclassed Everton in the opening round of matches in the Europa League and inspirational captain Alejandro Papu Gómez was at the centre of the victory.
Rumoured to be set for an Argentina recall this week for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, Papu proved too much for the Premier League side and curled in an exquisite second from the edge of the penalty box.
Se la dieron al Papu Gómez y la clavó al ángulo. ¡GOLAZO! pic.twitter.com/dmXDnCG24Y
— Mundo Monumental (@MundoMonumental) September 14, 2017
Papu’s strike came after Andrea Masiello had already given Atalanta the lead and before the break, Bryan Cristante added a third.
La Dea could have added more as their dominance continued but ultimately ran out comfortable winners to take an early lead in Group E, following Lyon’s draw with Apollon Limassol.
Papu was strongly linked with a move away from Atalanta this summer after an outstanding season but remained loyal to the club after qualifying for Europe and could not have asked for a better start. Jorge Sampaoli is set to name his new squad for the final October qualifiers against Peru and Ecuador on Friday and the 29-year-old is expected to be included.
Alejandro Gomez has now been directly involved in 13 goals in his last 13 games across all competitions for Atalanta.
What a strike. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/sWdDJAdRpA
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 14, 2017
Elsewhere in Group L, Zenit St Petersburg made an emphatic start to the tournament with a 5-0 win over Macedonian club Vardar.
Matías Kranevitter and Emanuel Mammana were in the Zenit starting eleven but it was second half substitute Emiliano Rigoni who was on the scoresheet. The 24-year-old was a late addition to the Russian side after weeks of negotiations with Independiente but notched his first goal for his new side in the 89th minute.
Zenit were already four goals up when Rigoni dashed into the channel from the left flank to collect a through-ball, something supporters of El Rojo became all too familiar with seeing, before calmly slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
Rigoni was included in Sampaoli’s previous squad after an injury to Eduardo Salvio ruled him out but the pacy forward will be hoping for another chance.
Así fue el tanto convertido por Rigoni. ¡GOLAZO DEL RAYO! pic.twitter.com/Ezz9qXy8ja
— Zenit Argentina (@ZenitARG) September 14, 2017