Atalanta‘s Champions League debut campaign looks set to continue into the quarter-finals, as they smashed Valencia 4-1 at San Siro. Atalanta is one of the contenders in Champions league-‘Round of 16’, from Serie A, apart from Juventus and Napoli.
Hans Hateboer scored a double, Remo Freuler and Josip Ilicic scored one each against two-time finalists. Substitute Denis Cheryshev scored the consolation goal at 66th minute after Atalanta took a winning lead of 4-0. Who were shell-shocked by the pace of their opponents in attack and their incisiveness? There is surely no way back for Albert Celades’ Spanish side.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, which is currently at fourth spot in Serie A, finished third last time, to qualify for Champions League. They qualified for knockout stages despite losing their three opening group games. Albert Celades’s Valencia are currently struggling at 7th spot in La Liga.
Atalanta had their home matches at Milan’s San Siro, because Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo, which is 55km away, does not meet UEFA policy and requirements. The distance was not an issue for 40,000 supporters who travelled from Bergamo, had a blast as their team almost ensured quarter-final berth.
At the eighth minute, Mario Pasalic played a one-two with Josip Ilicic but then keeper Jaume Domenech pushed the shot over the bar. But they went up when Dutchman Hateboer tapped in Papu Gomez’s ball from close range. Ilicic made it 2-0 with a mad-strike from 20 yards – the Slovenian has now scored 16 goals in all competitions this season.
Freuler then produced arguably the goal of the night with a stunning curling strike past the reach of Domenech, before the spritely Hateboer added a fourth when he galloped into the area from the right and drove a low shot into the far corner.
With a 4-0 lead, Atalanta conceded a goal, as Jose Luis Palomino’s backpass was picked off by substitute Denis Cheryshev who struck a low shot to reduce the margin.
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