The UEFA Champions League debutants produced a glittering attacking display to close in on a place in the last eight.
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Atalanta have one foot in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after a stunning 4-1 defeat of Valencia.ATALANTA V VALENCIA: AS IT HAPPENED
The match at a glance
The competition debutants left it late to qualify from the group stage but have not taken long to stamp their mark on the knockouts. Mario Pašalić had already been denied by a stunning Jaume Doménech save by the time Hans Hateboer turned in Alejandro Gómez’s low cross to give the hosts a 16th-minute lead.
The visitors’ Ferrán Torres hit a post on the half-hour but Josip Iličić then made it 2-0 at the break with a thumping strike from 14 metres out.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side showed no sign of relenting after the interval and Remo Freuler added a delightful third prior to the hour. Maxi Gómez missed a glorious close-range chance to claw the visitors back into the tie and just a minute later Hateboer raced clear wide on the right and claimed his brace.
Denis Cheryshev’s neat strike offered Valencia a sliver of hope but they have a mountain to climb.
Man of the Match: Hans Hateboer (Atalanta)
Cosmin Contra, UEFA technical observer: "He scored two goals and pushed forward in attack throughout the game while remaining effective in defence."
View from the stadium: Vieri Capretta, Atalanta reporter
What a night for Atalanta; almost perfect. It was the game everyone expected – Atalanta dominant but with chances at both ends. Everything fell just as the hosts would have hoped, with some sensational goals to boot. As long as Atalanta kept the tempo high, they demolished Valencia, but as soon as they took their foot off the gas the visitors managed to create opportunities of their own. That away goal means this isn’t over yet.
Visitors' view: Joseph Walker, Valencia reporter
A night to forget for Valencia. Albert Celades will not actually be too disappointed with the way his team played, but their finishing was far too profligate. They were taught a lesson in taking your chances tonight. The away goal gives them a glimmer of hope, but their Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread.
Hans Hateboer, Man of the Match: “As an individual it is always special when you score two goals. We still need to go to the Mestalla, but tonight was special.”
Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta coach: "It's a great result. We did well, we could have scored more; of course three goals advantage is positive. We should have been more careful in the final minutes as their goal could have been avoided. I want to score at the Mestalla, I don't want to suffer. Now is not the time to celebrate, I want to celebrate in three weeks' time."
- Atalanta's 12 UEFA Champions League goals this season have been scored by 10 different players
- Josip Iličić has scored 11 goals in his last ten games in all competitions
- Valencia have never won an away match in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage (D4 L6)
- This is only the second time Valencia have conceded four in a UEFA Champions League game
Atalanta: Gollini; Tolói, Palomino, Caldara (Zapata 75); Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pašalić (Tameze 90+2); Gómez (Malinovskyi 81), Iličić
Valencia: Doménech; Wass, Mangala, Diakhaby, Gayà; Ferrán Torres, Parejo, Kondogbia, Soler; Gonçalo Guedes (Cheryshev 64), Maxi Gómez (Gameiro 73)