Atalanta complete comeback to see off Sporting CP and reach Europa League quarter-finals

In front of a packed-out and loud Gewiss Stadium, Atalanta completed a comeback to send Sporting CP packing and reach the Europa League quarter-finals.

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GEWISS STADIUM (Bergamo): Atalanta advanced to the Europa League quarter-finals with a 2-1 comeback win seeing them past Sporting Clube de Portugal at the Gewiss Stadium on Thursday evening, where Gianluca Scamacca‘s second-half strike put them ahead for the first time in the tie an hour into the second leg.

In front of a lively Gewiss Stadium and after a stunning choreography from the Curva Nord pre-match, Atalanta started with real positivity, and Gian Piero Gasperini’s side were clearly looking to get at Sporting from the off. 

Atalanta’s Curva Nord before their Europa League last-16 second leg against Sporting CP. (Photo: Conor Clancy, Total Italian Football)

Without the ball, the Bergamaschi set up to press aggressively and Ederson stepped forward to join the front three of Aleksei Miranchuk, Gianluca Scamacca and Ademola Lookman in a notably high four-man line. Sporting looked to invite the press before playing swift straight passes in an attempt to spring forward, and it often worked.

But the first chance fell to Atalanta and Scamacca with just over two minutes on the clock. Put through nicely by Miranchuk, the former Sassuolo frontman couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet enough to do anything more than place a tame shot right at Franco Israel in goal. 

La Dea kept probing though and Sead Kolasinac went closest next. Another move that was built on the right-hand side saw Emil Holm put a perfect ball onto the centre-back’s head, but it appeared to be more of a shouldered effort than a header and looped wide. 

Sporting, though, were the side who struck first. After Francisco Trincao had looked dangerous on occasion and had troubled Berat Djimsiti, it was Pedro Goncalves and Viktor Gyokeres who combined smartly for the breakthrough. Goncalves made his way towards the box before offloading to his no.9 while continuing his run, and he was rewarded for that by being put through on Juan Musso in goal, then slotting through the Argentine’s legs. 

Lookman levels as Atalanta come out flying in the second half

Gasperini introduced Davide Zappacosta to replace Mitchel Bakker on the left at the break, and inside 60 seconds of the restart, the Nerazzurri were level. Again, though, it came from Holm on the right. Another dangerous ball from the Swede found Miranchuk free at the near post, and his header helped it goalwards and into the path of Lookman to thump it into the roof of the net from close range.

Ademola Lookman celebrates scoring for Atalanta in the Europa League. (@Atalanta_BC)

Sporting found themselves with a considerable amount of time on the ball, but couldn’t cause much trouble for Musso with it.

Then, before the hour mark, Scamacca made amends for a poor first-half showing to put Atalanta in front for the first time in the tie. With Djimsiti pressing and intercepting a forward pass from Sporting, Scamacca picked it up and sent it out right to Miranchuk. The Russian returned it the Italian’s way and he coolly slotted in with a first-time effort beneath the Curva Nord to prompt an eruption of sound that would have been heard all over the city and province of Bergamo.

From there, Atalanta showed good control of proceedings both in and out of possession. Charles De Ketelaere, Teun Koopmeiners and Mario Pasalic were all introduced to add life to a tiring midfield and attack, and for all their time on the ball Sporting rarely ventured forward in a way that would have had Gasperini troubled until the 89th minute. Then, Paulinho headed narrowly wide and a Musso parry moments later saw Marcus Edwards fire over.

Now, Atalanta advance to the Europa League quarter-finals with AC Milan, AS Roma, Benfica, Marseille, West Ham United, Liverpool, and Bayer Leverkusen their potential opponents.

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