Champions League | Atalanta 1-0 Young Boys: Pessina breakthrough

Matteo Pessina goal

Matteo Pessina finally broke down the Young Boys defences to give Atalanta a hard-fought victory, temporarily going top of their Champions League group.

Champions League Liveblog: Atalanta-YB, Juventus-Chelsea

This was an historic event for La Dea, the first Champions League game played in Bergamo in front of their own fans, as when the Gewiss Arena was given the all-clear, the pandemic had already started. It was still only at 50 per capacity due to COVID restrictions. Jose Luis Palomino and Hans Hateboer were out injured, but Luis Muriel returned on the bench. Young Boys fought back to beat 10-man Manchester United 2-1, so were top of the group, but missing Christian Fassnacht, Jean-Pierre Nsame, Joel Monteiro, Cedric Zesiger, Fabian Lustenberger, Nico Maier and Esteban Petignat.

Duvan Zapata forced a save in the opening minutes, but then Atalanta lost Robin Gosens to injury.

La Dea had the ball in the net when Ruslan Malinovskyi’s free kick was knocked back for Rafael Toloi to tap in with the aid of a deflection, but VAR confirmed he was marginally offside.

Duvan Zapata’s header went wide, while Matteo Pessina failed to get enough on a loose ball at the back post after a corner, when he could’ve tapped in from a couple of yards.

Toloi tested the goalkeeper again at the near post, but as Atalanta dominated possession and passing statistics, the lack of a breakthrough made the crowd increasingly anxious.

Davide Zappacosta’s ferocious strike was kept out by a splendid one-handed David von Ballmoos save and the deadlock was finally broken when Duvan Zapata nutmegged Sandro Lauper at the by-line and rolled it across the face of goal for Pessina to come sliding in from a couple of yards. He read the move perfectly and got in front of both defender and goalkeeper.

Curiously, Pessina was the first ever Italian to score for Atalanta in the Champions League, at the 31st goal for this club.

Luis Muriel made his comeback several weeks earlier than expected after a thigh strain and drilled wide after a free kick was taken quickly, then Van Ballmoos at full stretch parried a Duvan Zapata header off the line.

Muriel shimmied past defenders only for Van Ballmoos to get a hand to the finish off the inside of the boot that was heading towards the far bottom corner.

Atalanta 1-0 Young Boys

Pessina 68 (A)

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