Gian Piero Gasperini was happy with Atalanta’s 3-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League, but admits there are also ‘regrets’ they did not win by a bigger margin. ‘Qualification remains extremely tough.’



It was a hugely-entertaining Round of 16 tie with Charles Aranguiz giving the Germans the lead, before Ruslan Malinovskyi and a Luis Muriel brace turned it around.

Lukas Hradecky made a series of big saves to prevent La Dea adding more to their tally, until Moussa Diaby pulled one back for Leverkusen.

Europa League | Atalanta 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen: Muriel brace for the turnaround

The away goals rule no longer applies in the Europa League, so the 3-2 result is a positive one, especially considering Atalanta generally do better on their travels this season, but there are inevitably regrets at the lack of a fourth goal.

“The players deserve a lot of credit, as they put in a great performance against a very strong, quick opponent who is difficult to face. They are doing really well in the Bundesliga at the moment and it’s very satisfying for us to get this win, even if we hoped the result would be bigger,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“We should be happy, because before the game we’d gladly have taken a lead into the second leg in Germany. Qualification remains extremely tough, we’ve seen the quality of this Leverkusen team, but we’ve also seen our own strengths and we created so many chances.

“It’s true that Atalanta had a few below par performances, as all teams do, especially in Serie A where it is a very balanced league, but we haven’t always taken the results we deserved.”

Muriel had looked very rusty even after returning from injury, but found his scoring boots again this evening with a brace.

“Unfortunately, he had some injuries and always takes a little while to rediscover his form, but we never doubted his capabilities. He was extraordinary not just with the two goals, but his entire performance.”

Diaby’s goal came very much against the run of play after a series of Hradecky saves, but also at the same time that Bayer Leverkusen removed their centre-forward for a change of system.

“We do regret conceding that goal. They had just changed system to three defenders and three forwards, but the move for the goal itself was a bit messy.

“Although we did still create chances after that, we didn’t do it as consistently as before. We should still be happy, because I saw Bayer Leverkusen play against Bayern Munich last week, they are third in the Bundesliga, so these are games at international level that raise Atalanta’s profile.”

Hans Hateboer was very impressive and seems back to his best after a long lay-off.

“Unfortunately, he had a metatarsal injury, needed surgery and then had to be out in the end for 10 months. That’s an incredibly long time. When you come back in, that’s a struggle, but again we knew him so well and never had doubts he’d rediscover his form.”

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