Serie A: Abraham Stars As Roma Beat Atalanta

AS Roma’s British forward Tammy Abraham (back) jumps after scoring during their Italian Serie A football match between Atalanta and AS Roma at the Gewiss Stadium (Stadio di Bergamo) in the northern city of Bergamo on Decembre 18, 2021. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Tammy Abraham struck twice as Roma ran out 4-1 winners at fancied Atalanta on Saturday, in the biggest win for Jose Mourinho since returning to Serie A.

English striker Abraham opened the scoring with less than a minute on the clock at the Gewiss Stadium and rounded off the match late on as Roma closed the gap between them and the Champions League places to five points.

“What a win, what else can I say? A lot of people doubted us today but this is by far one of the best wins we’ve had this season,” said Abraham to DAZN.

“We needed to win and what a win.”

Nicolo Zaniolo and Abraham’s countryman Chris Smalling also netted in an impressive win, their first against one of Italy’s top teams this season, which took them fifth and dented third-place Atalanta’s burgeoning title hopes.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side sit third, six points behind champions and league leaders Inter Milan who crushed Salernitana 5-0 on Friday.

They will drop to fourth if Napoli win at fellow title-chasers AC Milan on Sunday following a defeat in which they dominated proceedings for large spells but were punished by Roma who were clinical in a classic Mourinho style.

Roma’s goals came from five shots on target after having less than 30 percent possession and no corners.

“There was a great spirit. It’s clear that playing against Atalanta you can never be in control of the match for 90 minutes… the team was great in every department today,” said Mourinho, who won the treble with Inter in 2010.

“I think Inter are on another level to everyone else but to beat the top teams like Milan, Napoli and Atalanta you can’t just have good organisation or tactics, you need a certain type of character which we had today.”

Smash and grab

Roma took the lead in an odd fashion when, after charging into the box, Abraham poked a close-range finish which looped high off Marten de Roon and into the net.

The away side were pinned back in their own area for long periods but, like Villarreal who performed their own smash-and-grab in Bergamo a few days ago, Roma struck on the breakthrough the marauding Zaniolo to double their lead against the run of play in the 27th minute.

It was the Italy’s forward’s first Serie A goal since July last year.

Atalanta continued to push and got back into the game in first-half stoppage time when substitute Luis Muriel’s low drive took a wild deflection off Bryan Cristante and left Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio with no chance.

And the home fans thought they were set to witness a grandstand finish in the 68th minute when Duvan Zapata’s flick was touched home but Jose Luis Palomino was ruled offside by VAR after challenging for the ball with Cristante.

The decision infuriated Gasperini who raged to DAZN that the referee told him a Palomino goal had been ruled out even though the Argentine had not, in fact, touched the ball.

“If Palomino didn’t touch the ball, then why is it offside? If Cristante got the ball, then what difference does it make?” he asked.

“We would then have been level with 20 minutes to go, it’s a very different game.”

Four minutes later Smalling hit Atalanta with a sucker punch, meeting Jordan Veretout’s superb free-kick to jab home the third from close range.

Abraham made it six league goals for the season with eight minutes remaining, lashing home a powerful first-time finish after Veretout’s blocked shot fell to him perfectly in shooting range.

Juventus aim to get their season back up and running again later on Saturday as they travel to Bologna, while Cagliari try to get out of the relegation zone when they host Udinese in the day’s late match.

Ronaldo Key As Man Utd Complete Comeback Against Atalanta

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo (3R) scores his team's third goal during the UEFA Champions league group F football match between Manchester United and Atalanta at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England, on October 20, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo (3R) scores his team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions league group F football match between Manchester United and Atalanta at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England, on October 20, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester United needed another Champions League fightback finished off by Cristiano Ronaldo as they came from two goals down to beat Atalanta 3-2 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Goals from Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men on course for a fifth defeat in eight games.

However, United’s attacking arsenal blew the Italians away after the break as Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire drew them level before Ronaldo powered home a header nine minutes from time.

Ronaldo also scored a 96th-minute winner against Villarreal in United’s previous Champions League game to mask an otherwise unconvincing performance.

READ ALSO: UAE To Host Next Club World Cup In Early 2022

Questions will continue to be asked of Solskjaer’s ability to get the best out of such a richly talented squad.

But a much-needed win to move to the top of Group F eases the mounting pressure on the Norwegian.

Solskjaer responded to Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Leicester by dropping Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba.

Rashford was handed his first start of the season after shoulder surgery and should have scored after just three minutes when he fired wide when clean through on goal, although the offside flag was later raised against the England international.

United’s major problems, though, have come at the other end as they have now kept one clean sheet in 20 games.

Atalanta played through the hosts with ease for the opening goal as Josip Ilicic fed Davide Zappacosta down the right and his low cross was turned home by Pasalic.

Fred was denied an instant equaliser by a brilliant save from Juan Musso before United were easily breached again.

Maguire endured a torrid return from injury against his former club at the weekend and was outjumped by Demiral as the Turkish defender headed home from a corner.

Old Trafford was growing restless, but luckily for United they were up against a defence as suspect as their own.

Fred fired another huge chance wide before Rashford hit the bar with just Musso to beat before the break.

Rashford finally found his range to halve the home side’s deficit with a calm finish from Bruno Fernandes’ pass eight minutes into the second half.

Scott McTominay then fired against the post and Musso was forced to full stretch to turn a low Ronaldo shot to safety.

Solskjaer unloaded his wealth of attacking options off the bench as Pogba, Sancho and Edinson Cavani were introduced for the final quarter.

But United’s awful defending nearly gave them too much of a mountain to climb.

Duvan Zapata spun Victor Lindelof with ease and forced David de Gea into a stunning save before the Spaniard parried Ruslan Malinovskyi’s follow-up strike over.

It took just two minutes to prove the value of those saves as Maguire hammered home at the back post from Cavani’s flick-on.

Fernandes should have completed the comeback when he fired too close to Musso.

But that cleared the way for Ronaldo to provide another fairytale ending as he rose highest to power home Luke Shaw’s cross for his sixth goal in nine appearances since returning to the club where he first became a world star.

AFP

Man Utd Must Fix ‘Mentality And Tactics’, Says Pogba

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba applauds the fans at the end of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on October 16, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Paul Pogba delivered a withering assessment of the state of Manchester United’s form after a 4-2 defeat to Leicester left the Red Devils already five points adrift in the Premier League title race.

United have not won an English top-flight title since 2013 but were expected to challenge this season after splashing out to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in the transfer window.

However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have taken just one point from a possible nine against Aston Villa, Everton and Leicester in their last three league games.

United also crashed out of the League Cup last month and are under pressure for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Atalanta after losing their opening group game to Swiss side Young Boys.

“If we want to win the title, these are the games we need to win, even if they are very hard,” Pogba told Sky Sports.

“We have been having these kinds of games for a long time and haven’t found the problem. We have conceded easy and stupid goals.”

United’s defence was easily exposed by a Leicester side that had not won since August before Saturday.

Solskjaer started with all of Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho, Mason Greenwood and Ronaldo and hinted afterwards he may have to sacrifice some of his attacking stars to better balance the side.

“We know that the fans were going to push and put pressure on us and we need to be more mature, play with more experience and arrogance – in a good way – by taking the ball and playing our football,” added Pogba.

“We need to find the key for this change because we deserved to lose.

“I don’t know if it is the mindset of the players. We need to change something. We need to find the mentality and tactics to win. We have to look as individuals and as a team to fix this.”

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville said Solskjaer’s forward players were not working hard enough defensively.

“I love them as players those five, but having them all in the same team there’s not enough workhorses,” said Neville.

“We needed workhorses alongside the great players. Manchester United at this moment in time are imbalanced.”

The pressure is rising on Solskjaer to turn things around quickly ahead of a demanding run of fixtures.

Solskjaer’s men face Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their next six Premier League games.

Ronaldo Absent As Atalanta Secure First League Win Over Juve In 20 Years

Atalanta’s Ukrainian midfielder Ruslan Malinovskiy (Bottom) celebrates with teammates after opening the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta Bergamo vs Juventus Turin on April 18, 2021 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Ruslan Malinovskyi struck late as Atalanta won 1-0 to claim their first league victory over Juventus in two decades and move third in Serie A at the expense of the Italian champions on Sunday.

Atalanta are two points behind second-placed AC Milan who beat Genoa 2-1 thanks to an own-goal from Gianluca Scamacca to claim their first win at the San Siro in over two months.

Juventus were playing without injured star striker Cristiano Ronaldo in the match between the Champions League rivals in Bergamo.

Substitute Malinovskyi broke the deadlock three minutes from time with a goal which took a deflection off Alex Sandro to send Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way.

Juve’s nine-year reign as champions looks set to end, and they are now facing a battle for a Champions League place.

They sit fourth and risk being overtaken by fifth-placed Napoli who play leaders Inter Milan later Sunday.

Atalanta had not beaten Juventus in Serie A in 20 years going back to February 2001.

Atalanta’s Italian coach Gian Piero Gasperini (C-R) congratulates Atalanta’s Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic (R) at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta Bergamo vs Juventus Turin on April 18, 2021 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

In Ronaldo’s absence, Paulo Dybala got his first start in over three months after recovering from a knee injury.

But the Argentine failed to make much of an impact and was substituted in the 68th minute despite setting up Weston McKennie for a chance the American missed on 38 minutes and sending a free-kick wide after the hour mark.

Alvaro Morata missed two chances to break through, the first cleared off the line in the 34th minute by Berat Djimsiti following a Federico Chiesa cross and the other saved by Pierluigi Gollini with 14 minutes remaining.

To add to Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo’s woes forward Chiesa limped off after an hour.

READ ALSO: Chelsea End Man City’s Quadruple Quest To Reach FA Cup Final

Top Atalanta striker Luis Muriel fired over the bar after an hour with Duvan Zapata heading wide after 70 minutes.

Malinovskyi came off the bench with quarter of an hour to go and proved decisive.

His long-range free-kick was parried by Szczesny before he beat the Polish keeper to hand Atalanta a fifth consecutive win and boost confidence before meeting Juve in next month’s Italian Cup final.

– Milan end San Siro hoodoo –
In Milan, Scamacca’s 68th-minute own goal put Milan eight points behind city rivals Inter and kept them on course for a return to Champions League football next season.

Stefano Pioli’s side had not won their last six games in the San Siro in all competitions and were playing without suspended forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“We wasted a lot, we could have finished it earlier, but the important thing is the spirit to stay in the game until the very end,” said Pioli, who has given up on catching Inter.

“Inter have taken too many points to think that we can still fight for the Scudetto (league title).

“Winning was important. We will have to face important teams, Atalanta, Juventus, Lazio, from here to the end they will all be difficult.”

Ante Rebic put Milan ahead in the 13th minute with Rafael Leao, taking the place of Ibrahimovic, missing a chance for a second minutes later.

A Mattia Destro header against his former club pulled 14th-placed Genoa level eight minutes before the break.

Mario Mandzukic came off the bench for his first appearance in over two months just after the hour and had a role in the winning goal, which Scamacca guided past his own goalkeeper from a Hakan Calhanoglu corner.

Genoa missed a double chance to pull level again with four minutes to go when Andrea Masiello and Valon Behrami were denied by Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori’s goal-line clearance to hand Milan their first home win since February 7.

The seven-time European champions are aiming to return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.

AFP

Atalanta Fans Defy Restrictions To Cheer Team Before Real Madrid Game

Atalanta’s Brazilian defender Rafael Toloi (L) tackles Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match Atalanta vs Real Madrid on February 24, 2021 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Thousands of Atalanta fans ignored the Italian team’s plea to stay away before Wednesday’s Champions League match against Real Madrid in Bergamo.

Over 4,000 gathered outside the Gewiss Stadium in northern Italy hours before the 2000GMT kickoff with a party atmosphere despite the coronavirus restrictions.

The cheering fans, including families with young children all wearing protective masks, waved banners and flags with a fireworks display and smoke bombs set off.

They waited for the team bus carrying Atalanta players and staff before the last 16, first leg match.

Atalanta had published an appeal from the local health authority not to turn up at the stadium during COVID-19 lockdown measures.

“We keep in mind the danger of contagion of that virus that we are fighting with all our strength and ability,” the team said.

“We live the great and historic game with the prudence and caution that the moment and the preventive health measures require, avoiding meetings, hugs, choirs and gatherings.

“The time will come again to live these attitudes in the utmost freedom, and surely we will be there, but we still need to have patience: the same we have shown in waiting for this dream encounter with Real.”

 

Real Madrid’s Croatian midfielder Luka Modric (R) challenges Atalanta’s Italian midfielder Matteo Pessina during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match Atalanta vs Real Madrid on February 24, 2021 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Atalanta are playing their second Champions League campaign, but first knock-out round in their home stadium which underwent renovations last season.

Atalanta won their last 16, first leg clash against Valencia 4-1 on front of 45,000 spectators in Milan’s San Siro in a match considered to have been one of the reasons behind the acceleration of the virus in Italy with Bergamo at the epicentre of the country’s outbreak.

Manchester United Complete Signing Of Amad Diallo From Atalanta

Amad Diallo joined Manchester United from Atalanta.
Amad Diallo joined Manchester United from Atalanta.

 

Manchester United announced on Thursday they had completed the transfer of Ivorian winger Amad Diallo from Serie A side Atalanta.

The 18-year-old has signed a contract at Old Trafford until 2025, with the option of an extra year.

The agreement between the clubs was first announced on October 5 but the transfer was subject to a medical, work-permit and personal terms.

These steps have now been completed and an application has been made for a visa. Once this has been issued, Diallo will be cleared to travel to Manchester.

Diallo made a total of five senior appearances for Atalanta and scored one goal.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the teenager had been on the club’s radar for a number of years.

“Manchester United has such a proud history of developing young players and everything is in place to enable Amad to reach his potential here,” he said.

“It will take time for him to adapt but his speed, vision and fantastic dribbling ability will stand him in good stead to make the transition. He is a player with all of the raw attributes that are needed to be an important player for Manchester United in the years to come.”

Diallo said the move was a “dream come true”.

“I have had time to prepare for this move, both physically and mentally, and I have worked really hard to be ready to make the step up to this amazing club,” he added.

AFP

Atalanta Beat Ajax To Reach Champions League Last 16

Atalanta’s Colombian forward Luis Muriel (L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Atalanta Bergamo, at the Johan Cruijff stadium in Amsterdam, on December 9, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP)

 

Atalanta secured a return to the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday following a 1-0 win at Ajax that sent the Italians through as Group D runners-up behind Liverpool.

Substitute Luis Muriel struck the decisive goal five minutes from time, shortly after the dismissal of Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch in Amsterdam, as Atalanta won their fifth successive away game in the competition.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side had required just a point in their final game to edge Ajax to second place.

 

Ajax’s Moroccan defender Noussair Mazraoui (L) fights for the ball with Atalanta’s Swiss midfielder Remo Freuler during the UEFA Champions League Group D football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Atalanta Bergamo, at the Johan Cruijff stadium in Amsterdam, on December 9, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP)

 

They were just minutes away from reaching last season’s semi-finals on their Champions League debut before conceding two late goals to Paris Saint-Germain in the ‘Final Eight’ in Lisbon.

“Reaching the round of 16 again is an extraordinary achievement. This season even more than last year, because Liverpool and Ajax are two traditionally huge teams,” Gasperini told Sky Sport Italia.

“Defensively we did really well. Then we tried our best on the break, and got that goal in the final minutes – deserved in my opinion.”

Four-time winners Ajax have now failed to progress from the group stage for the seventh time in their past eight appearances, and will drop into the last 32 of the Europa League.

Eighteen-year-old forward Brian Brobbey made his Champions League debut for Ajax, replacing the injured Lassina Traore in an attack also missing David Neres.

Atalanta, whose Serie A game at Udinese at the weekend was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, left Josip Ilicic, their leading scorer during their run to the 2019-20 quarter-finals, on the bench.

Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon sliced wide for Atalanta from 20 yards following a Duvan Zapata lay-off in a cautious first half, with Brobbey removed at the break following an accidental collision with team-mate Nicolas Tagliafico.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had a penalty appeal dismissed after he was barged by Remo Freuler before Davy Klaassen drilled at the legs of Atalanta goalkeeper Pierliugi Gollini following a subtle flick from Jurgen Ekkelenkamp.

Teenager Gravenberch was sent off 10 minutes from time for a second yellow after catching Atalanta captain Papu Gomez with his trailing arm, and Muriel promptly delivered the fatal blow as he ran onto Freuler’s pass and rounded Andre Onana before slotting home.

Sloppy Liverpool Beaten At Home By Atalanta

Atalanta’s German defender Robin Gosens (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League football match between Liverpool and Atalanta Bergamo at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on November 25, 2020. AFP

 

Liverpool wasted a chance to book their place in the Champions League last 16 as Atalanta earned a shock 2-0 win at Anfield on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side could have guaranteed qualification from Group D with a victory, but they produced a poor display that was deservedly punished by the impressive Italians.

Two goals in four minutes from Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens in the second half gave Atalanta a memorable victory that ended Liverpool’s 100-per cent record in this year’s tournament.

Liverpool had thrashed Atalanta 5-0 in Italy at the start of the November to make it three wins from their first three group games.

But for the first time since Virgil van Dijk was lost to a serious knee injury at Everton in October, the Reds looked vulnerable at the back in a rare Anfield defeat.

Beaten for the first time in nine games in all competitions since Van Dijk was sidelined, Klopp’s group leaders still have their Champions League destiny in their own hands.

Early qualification would have allowed Klopp to rest players for the final two group matches amid a hectic schedule.

Instead, Liverpool host Ajax next week with work still to do before their final game against FC Midtjylland.

Atalanta’s victory moved them to level with Ajax and within two points of Liverpool.

Liverpool’s injury list remains long, with Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold all unavailable.

Klopp named a makeshift defence featuring only Joel Matip from Saturday’s win over Leicester as Neco Williams, Rhys Williams and Kostas Tsimikas started.

Even so, this was a sloppy showing from the Premier League champions.

 Frustrated Klopp

Atalanta took advantage of Liverpool’s lack of cohesion at the back when Gosens got in behind Matip and smashed a powerful strike that Alisson Becker pushed away.

Papu Gomez was next to exploit Matip’s creaky start when he eluded the centre-back and fired just wide from the edge of the area.

Tsimikas’s poor headed clearance gave a chance to Ilicic, but he could only shoot wide.

Liverpool were no more convincing in attack, despite the presence of Mohamed Salah — back after missing one match due to his positive coronavirus test — and Sadio Mane either side of Divock Origi.

Waving his arms and gesticulating at his players, Klopp’s frustration was visible as half an hour passed without Liverpool mustering a single shot.

Salah finally had a sight of goal just before half-time, but he couldn’t keep his effort on target from an acute angle.

Liverpool were no better after the interval and they fell behind in the 60th minute.

Gomez whipped over a teasing cross that Liverpool failed to deal with and the unmarked Ilicic stole in to slot past Alisson from close range for his first goal of the season.

Klopp had seen enough and made four changes immediately after the goal as he hauled off Salah among others and sent on Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Andrew Robertson.

The switches weren’t enough to spark lethargic Liverpool into life and Atalanta struck again in the 64th minute.

Liverpool were dreadfully slow to react as Gosens produced a clinical finish from 10 yards after Gomez’s precise delivery was nodded across goal by Hans Hateboer.

AFP

Five-Goal Atalanta Crush Cagliari, Juve Vs Napoli Under Coronavirus Cloud

Atalanta’s players acknowledge the public at the end of the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs Cagliari on October 4, 2020 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Papu Gomez extended his scoring streak as Atalanta crushed Cagliari 5-2 for a third consecutive win this season, but champions Juventus’s clash against Napoli later Sunday remains in doubt after coronavirus cases at both clubs.

Atalanta struck hard in their first home game this season in Bergamo, bringing their tally to 13 goals in three games played, to sit top of the Serie A table.

Atalanta’s Albanian defender Berat Djimsiti (L) and Cagliari’s Argentine forward Giovanni Simeone go for a header during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs Cagliari on October 4, 2020 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

“This team is going through an excellent period,” said coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

“They did not suffer much, the goalkeeper was not very busy. The score could have been much bigger.

“We’ve given the maximum in three games, now there is the (international) break that interrupts this momentum.

“After that we will immediately have Napoli and then the Champions League, we have to pick up where we left off.”

 

Atalanta’s Dutch forward Sam Lammers (2ndL) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Atalanta vs Cagliari on October 4, 2020 at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium in Bergamo. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Gasperini’s side were four goals up at the break with Luis Muriel opening after seven minute.

Gomez blasted in the second from a distance just before the half-hour mark, five minutes after Uruguayan defender Diego Godin had pulled Cagliari level on his debut since moving from Inter Milan.

Mario Pasalic and Duvan Zapata also scored in a five-minute spell before the break.

Joao Pedro reduced the deficit for the Sardinians after the break but Sam Lammers marked his first home game with an impressive solo effort with nine minutes to go.

Atalanta have the maximum nine points, but can be joined by Inter Milan who play Lazio later, with Hellas Verona and AC Milan also looking for their third wins against Parma and La Spezia.

– Napoli risk forfeit –

Napoli are also looking for a third straight win, against nine-time holders Juventus, who have four points from two games.

But their match remains uncertain with Gennaro Gattuso’s side remaining in Naples, complying with a decision by regional health authorities.

Both Napoli and Atalanta announced new cases among their players on Saturday.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side now count midfielder Eljif Elmas among those with the virus after Poland international Piotr Zielinski on Friday.

Atalanta said their unnamed player had “a low viral load” and was “asymptomatic”.

Juventus confirmed they would “take to the field” as scheduled despite two positive tests among their staff with coach Andrea Pirlo naming his match-day squad.

The Lega Serie A confirmed that the match between the title rivals remains scheduled for Turin at 1845 GMT despite Napoli remaining at home in Naples.

If Napoli do not play Gattuso’s side would forfeit the game 3-0.

The Lega Serie A are applying UEFA rules whereby a match can take place as long as a side have 13 healthy players, including a goalkeeper.

The only possible exemption would be a club which has an active outbreak of Covid-19 with more than ten new positive cases in a week.

In this case, the club can request a postponement, but only once in the season.

Genoa’s game against Torino on Saturday was postponed with the Ligurian club, who lost 6-0 to Napoli last weekend, now counting 22 cases, including 17 players.

AFP

Neymar Insists PSG Always Knew They Could Win After Atalanta Triumph

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (L) and Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrate after winning at the end of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Atalanta and Paris Saint-Germain at the Luz Stadium in Lisbon on August 12, 2020. (Photo by David Ramos / POOL / AFP)

 

Brazilian superstar Neymar insisted that Paris Saint-Germain always believed they could come back from the brink to defeat Atalanta with two goals in the dying moments of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.

“I never thought of going home. From start to finish, from the warm-up, we only thought of qualifying for the semi-finals,” the world’s most expensive footballer told RMC Sport.

Substitute Eric Choupo-Moting’s goal three minutes into added time allowed PSG to beat the Italian outsiders 2-1.

Mario Pasalic gave Atalanta a 27th-minute lead but PSG were rescued when Marquinhos came forward to scramble in a last-minute equaliser.

Kylian Mbappe set up fellow substitute Choupo-Moting to win the tie right at the end.

The French champions will play RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid next Tuesday for a place in the final.

“Nobody is going to take my mind off that I want to go to the final,” added 28-year-old Neymar as PSG made the last-four for the first time since 1995.

“We really have a great group, we’re a family, we know that with this state of mind it’s impossible. to put us out of competition.

“We knew that a ball could arrive, that even after the equaliser we could score a second goal.”

Neymar hailed Atalanta, the team which captured the imagination of neutrals, reaching this stage despite their city of Bergamo being one of the worst hit by the coronavirus.

“Atalanta are a great team, they played very well, they are the surprise of the competition. They were very aggressive, we knew they were going to press us,” said Neymar.

“Now we’re going to have to rest, it was a tough game mentally.

“Another very difficult match is coming.”

 

 

-AFP

Mbappe Out For Three Weeks, Doubtful For Atalanta Clash

 In this file photo taken on July 24, 2020 Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts after an injury during the French Cup final football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE), at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
In this file photo taken on July 24, 2020 Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts after an injury during the French Cup final football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE), at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe will be sidelined for “around three weeks” after spraining his ankle in the French Cup final, likely ruling him out of Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta on August 12.

The France forward limped off in the first half of Friday’s 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne after a dreadful tackle that resulted in a red card for opposing captain Loic Perrin.

PSG said Monday medical imaging had confirmed the initial test results of a sprained right ankle, with Mbappe also sustaining ligament damage.

The club indicated the expected timeline for his return was “around three weeks”, meaning he will miss Friday’s French League Cup final against Lyon.

The diagnosis also leaves Mbappe a huge doubt for PSG’s resumption of their Champions League campaign, although the 21-year-old could be fit to return for the semi-finals if Thomas Tuchel’s side advance.

The latter stages of European club football’s flagship competition will be played in a unique straight knockout tournament in Lisbon due to the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

PSG against Atalanta will be the first quarter-final of the ‘Final Eight’ mini tournament at the Estadio da Luz, with the semi-finals programmed for August 18-19 and the final to be held August 23.

 

AFP

Champions League: Four-Goal Ilicic Guides Atalanta Into Quarter-Final

Josip Atalanta’s Slovenian midfielder Josip Ilicic celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Valencia CF and Atalanta at Estadio Mestalla on March 10, 2020 in Valencia. POOL UEFA / AFP

 

Atalanta’s fairytale Champions League run continued inside an empty stadium on Tuesday as Josip Ilicic scored four times in a 4-3 win over Valencia that sent his team into the quarter-finals 8-4 on aggregate.

A frantic contest inside an echoing Mestalla stadium was the first of several in the competition to be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus, with 55,000 vacant seats creating a surreal atmosphere that was never likely to deliver a momentous Valencia comeback.

They had been tasked with overturning a 4-1 defeat from the opening game in Italy and any hopes were all-but dashed inside 90 seconds when Mouctar Diakhaby conceded the first of two penalties, each converted by Ilicic.

In between, Kevin Gameiro had levelled for Valencia and then scored again shortly after half-time before Ferran Torres lobbed in to leave the hosts needing three in just over 20 minutes.

Yet any chance of a revival was quickly snuffed out as Ilicic completed his hat-trick and added a fourth to ensure Atalanta ended a strange evening with their names in the draw on March 20.

The Slovenia international also became the first player to score four times away from home in a Champions League knockout match.

Atalanta’s progress remains the greatest surprise of this year’s tournament, in which they lost all three of their opening group games and are featuring for the first time in the club’s 113-year history.

“After a difficult start to this competition, we got the hang of it,” said coach Gian Piero Gasperini afterwards.

All the more the shame then that their advance on the back of two brilliant victories over Valencia was overshadowed by the sight of a Champions League knock-out tie being played with only a handful of stadium staff in the stands.

 Strange atmosphere 

The shouts of the players were audible throughout while in the first half Valencia seemingly projected crowd noise through a sound system, although it was later turned off when hopes of a comeback had disappeared.

Valencia’s supporters had gathered outside the stadium before kick-off to welcome the team bus but none were allowed inside. Atalanta are based in Bergamo in northern Italy, one of the worst-hit regions in a country that has had 631 people killed by the virus so far.

After the final whistle, the players held up a shirt to a television camera that had the message, “Bergamo, this is for you!” written across the front.

“We are very happy with how we have represented a region that suffers so much,” said Gasperini.

Spain announced on Monday that all schools in the Madrid area will close on Wednesday while La Liga had confirmed earlier on Tuesday that all matches in the top two divisions will be played behind closed doors for two weeks at least.

The sense of deflation at not having any fans on hand was impossible to ignore because before even two minutes were up, Valencia were behind.

Diakhaby slid in to block Ilicic’s dummy-shot and scythed down the striker as he turned back. Ilicic drove the penalty down the middle for his 18th goal of the season.

Valencia equalised after Atalanta conceded possession cheaply in midfield and Rodrigo slid in Gameiro to finish, but Ilicic converted a second penalty before half-time, after Diakhaby feathered the ball with his hand.

Gameiro made it 2-2 by heading in Torres’ cross and then Torres found the net himself, lifting the ball over Marco Sportiello to give Valencia some hope with 23 minutes left.

But four minutes later, Ilicic completed his treble with a driven shot into the corner and with progress secured, he grabbed the win too when the ball spilled out to him at the back post and he guided it into the top corner.

AFP