Sunday , March 15 2020

Valencia 3-4 Atalanta (4-8 agg): Josip Ilicic QUADRUPLE secures Atalanta’s place in final eight

Valencia 3-4 Atalanta (4-8 agg): Josip Ilicic QUADRUPLE in front of an eerily quiet Mestalla secures Atalanta’s place in the final eight in their first Champions League campaign

  • Valencia had a mountain to climb after losing 4-1 away at Atalanta in the first leg
  • They were also without the advantage of home fans due to coronavirus bans
  • Mouctar Diakhaby conceded two first-half penalties to put result beyond doubt
  • A brace from Kevin Gameiro and a Ferran Torres goal were posted in reply 
  • But Josip Ilicic’s four goals on the night secured a famous night for Atalanta 

Four goals from Josip Ilicic have secured Atalanta’s qualification to the quarter finals of the Champions League over Valencia.

The Slovenian struck twice from the penalty spot as the La Liga side were unable to overturn their heavy 4-1 defeat in the first leg.

A brace from Kevin Gameiro and a lofted finish from Ferran Torres were posted in reply by Valencia but they never looked likely to cause an upset following their thrashing in Italy. 

Four goals from Josip Ilicic have secured Atalanta’s qualification to the quarter finals

Ilicic opened the scoring from the penalty spot in front of an empty stadium

Ilicic opened the scoring from the penalty spot in front of an empty stadium

Kevin Gameiro equalised in the first half but the deficit was always too great for Valencia

Kevin Gameiro equalised in the first half but the deficit was always too great for Valencia

Ilicic ensured Atalanta enjoyed a historic night on their first Champions League campaign

Ilicic ensured Atalanta enjoyed a historic night on their first Champions League campaign

MATCH FACTS 

Valencia (4-4-2): Cillessen; Wass, Coquelin (Cheryshev 74), Diakhaby (Goncalo Guedes 46), Gaya; Ferran Torres, Parejo (c), Kondogbia, Soler; Gameiro, Rodrigo (Florenzi 79)

Subs not used: Domenech, Lee, Ruben Sobrino, Hugo Guillamon

Goals: Gameiro 21, 51, Ferran Torres 67

Bookings: Coquelin, Kondogbia, Diakhaby, Wass

Coach: Albert Celades

Atalanta (3-4-3): Sportiello; Djimsiti, Caldara, Palomino; Hateboer, De Roon (Zapata 44), Freuler, Gosens; Ilicic, Pasalic (Tameze 83), Gomez (c) (Malinovskyi 78)

Subs not used: Rossi, Czyborra, Muriel, Castagne

Goals: Ilicic 3 (pen), 43 (pen), 71, 82

Bookings: Freuler

Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini 

Referee: Ovidiu Hategan

The result means Atalanta, currently fourth in Serie A, have reached the final eight in their first ever Champions League campaign. 

The match was played in front of a completely empty Mestalla as Spanish health authorities ordered fans to stay away.

Valencia had a mountain to climb, needing to win by at least three goals against an impressive Atalanta unit.

And their challenge was made even more difficult when Mouctar Diakhaby conceded a penalty after only three minutes which Ilicic duly converted. 

Ilicic scored the game's first goal from the spot as the players celebrated to empty seats

Ilicic scored the game’s first goal from the spot as the players celebrated to empty seats

Kevin Gameiro was Valencia's main threat, scoring twice as his team failed to overturn the loss

Kevin Gameiro was Valencia’s main threat, scoring twice as his team failed to overturn the loss

Gameiro then replied with a fine poacher’s goal but it failed to spark the much-needed revival from his team.

VAR had its moment as the referee used the on-pitch monitor to check the penalty which he awarded to Atalanta. 

And it was another defensive error which gifted the lead again to Atalanta, with Diakhaby at fault for a second time, this time for a handball which Ilicic converted for his second.  

Gameiro netted his brace in the second half with a thumping header and a Ferran Torres chip gave the absent fans the tiniest glimmer of hope as Valencia took the lead for the first time on the night.

The only fan in the stadium was a statue commemorating blind supporter Vicente Navarro

The only fan in the stadium was a statue commemorating blind supporter Vicente Navarro

The referee used the on-pitch VAR monitor to check Atalanta's second penalty

The referee used the on-pitch VAR monitor to check Atalanta’s second penalty

But that was soon cut short as Ilicic went on to add two more, this time both from open play.

Throughout the game, the players’ and coaches’ shouts were all to be heard inside the Mestalla.

Spain’s health ministry ordered the game to be played behind open doors to avoid ‘large gatherings of fans’ and minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Mouctar Diakhaby gave away two penalties in the first half, effectively ending Valencia's hopes

Mouctar Diakhaby gave away two penalties in the first half, effectively ending Valencia’s hopes

Valencia's coach Albert Celades could only look on in despair as his team limped out

Valencia’s coach Albert Celades could only look on in despair as his team limped out

Ilicic netted his side's third and fourth goals of the night to secure Atalanta's qualification

Ilicic netted his side’s third and fourth goals of the night to secure Atalanta’s qualification

But many Valencia fans turned up outside the stadium anyway in their thousands to cheer on their team, flouting the recommendations. 

The match is one of a number in the Champions League to be played behind closed doors in an effort to control the outbreak.

Valencia’s compatriots Barcelona will play their tie against Napoli on March 18 at an empty Nou Camp. 

Valencia fans have arrived outside the Mestalla despite being warned to stay away

Before the game, Valencia fans arrived outside the Mestalla despite being warned to stay away

Police in riot helmets attended as the fans gathered before their clash against Atalanta

Police in riot helmets attended as the fans gathered before their clash against Atalanta

A waiter wearing a mask serves food to fans watching the match on a screen near the ground

A waiter wearing a mask serves food to fans watching the match on a screen near the ground

Meanwhile PSG’s second leg match against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday will also be played with no fans present, as will Chelsea’s at Bayern Munich next week.

Bayern’s home Bundesliga fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt on March 22 may also be played in an empty stadium, as would any home leg of a potential quarter-final. 

The deadly virus is also affecting the Europa League, with Manchester United’s away tie at LASK on Thursday being played at an empty stadium.