In his first participation in the maximum European club competition, the Atalanta Italian achieved a historic classification for the quarterfinals by winning 4-3 in Valencia (8-4 on aggregate of the tie), this Tuesday in the return of the round of 16, disputed behind closed doors.
With four goals scored by Slovenian Josip Ilicic (3, 43, 71 and 82), Atalanta, who had already won in Bergamo 4-1, sentenced the pass to the next round against a Valencia that could only make up the result, with another double by Frenchman Kevin Gameiro (21 and 51) and a goal by young Ferran Torres (67).
If the bulky defeat in Italy and the impossibility of playing with the public in Mestalla, for the coronavirus epidemic, made Valencia’s comeback almost impossible, the hopes of the Spanish were dashed as soon as the game began, when the Frenchman Mouctar Diakhaby committed a rude penalty, scored by Ilicic (3).
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Gameiro tied minutes later taking advantage of a mistake by defender Marco Sportiello (21), allowing Valencianistas to dream for a few minutes of the possibility of at least equalizing the tie, but shortly before the break Diakhaby returned to star in another absurd penalty, for touching the ball with his hand, and Ilicic again beat Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen (43).
Diakhaby’s disastrous performance led coach Albert Celades to change him at halftime for Portuguese Gonzalo Guedes, who was also a more offensive bet.
This decision had a positive effect, since Valencia turned the scoreboard with goals from Gameiro (51) and young Ferran Torres (67), but there were still just over 25 minutes left and the Spanish still needed three goals to turn the corner tie of Champions League.
But Ilicic, protagonist of the tie with five goals from his team’s eight in the two games, the pass reappeared definitively with two great shots (71 and 82).