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Valencia vs Atalanta.

UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round.

Valencia 3

  • K Gameiro (21st minute, 51st minute)
  • F Torres (67th minute)

Atalanta 4

  • J Ilicic (3rd minute pen, 43rd minute pen, 71st minute, 82nd minute)

4-8

Valencia 3-4 Atalanta (Agg: 4-8): Josip Ilicic scores four in behind-closed-doors victory

Atalanta reach quarter-finals in first-ever Champions League season

Tuesday 10 March 2020 22:33, UK

Josip Ilicic scored four for Atalanta in their 4-3 win over Valencia
Image: Josip Ilicic scored four for Atalanta in their 4-3 win over Valencia

Atalanta's Josip Ilicic scored four goals in a stunning individual display to lead them to a 4-3 Champions League last-16, second-leg win over Valencia, that completed an 8-4 aggregate victory, at an empty Mestalla.

Playing in the Champions League for the first time this season, Atalanta's European adventure continued in emphatic fashion as Slovenian Ilicic scored twice in each half to guide his side comfortably into the quarter-finals.

Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby conceded two penalties in the first half, both converted by Ilicic, either side of Kevin Gameiro's equaliser.

Gameiro headed home a second and Ferran Torres put Valencia ahead on the night but Slovenian playmaker Ilicic completed his hat-trick and then curled in a sumptuous fourth as his team reached the quarter-finals.

The Spanish side's stadium was shut to supporters as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, with the visitors coming from a high-risk zone in the north of Italy.

Atalanta celebrate their win in an empty stadium
Image: Atalanta celebrate their win in an empty stadium

Yet despite fears surrounding the virus, thousands of Valencia fans gathered outside the stadium to welcome their team bus as they attempted to overturn a 4-1 first-leg defeat.

"Our hearts and souls are always in Mestalla," read a banner draped over empty seats inside.

More on this story

Valencia started badly, with the hapless Diakhaby bringing down Ilicic inside the second minute and the Slovenian converted from the penalty spot to give the visitors a dream start.

Gameiro pounced on a loose ball and slotted home to level but Gian Piero Gasperini's Serie A side could not be repressed.

Valencia desperately get the ball out of the net after Kevin Gameiro's goal
Image: Valencia desperately get the ball out of the net after Kevin Gameiro's goal

The Italians went back ahead two minutes before the break after Diakhaby handled in the area to concede another penalty, dispatched by Ilicic.

Remo Freuler crashed an effort against the crossbar for Atalanta but Gameiro headed home Torres's cross to level on the night after 51 minutes.

Electric winger Torres, recently linked with Barcelona by Spanish media, lobbed home to give the hosts some hope, but the sublime Ilicic wrapped up the tie with two classy finishes.

The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals will be held on March 20 at 11am.

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