Atalanta Manager Gian Piero Gasperini praised his team and insisted that the Nerazzurri “represented Italy well.”
La Dea were seven minutes away from progressing into the Europa League Last 16 when unfortunately they conceded an equaliser to Borussia Dortmund and were subsequently eliminated 4-3 on aggregate.
Atalanta qualified for the Europa League last season when they shocked the footballing world and finished fourth in Serie A. The Orobici were appearing in Europe for the first time in 28 years but this didn’t stop them from gaining the respect from many neutrals as they topped a group that included Lyon and Everton.
Atalanta were subsequently drawn up against Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 32 after the German side were eliminated from the Champions League after finishing 3rd in their group behind Tottenham Hotspurs and Real Madrid. Despite Dortmund being considered favourites to win the Europa League, the Italians were so close to eliminating the German side, and Gian Piero Gasperini discussed this in his post-match interview with Sky Sport Italia after last night’s 1-1 draw.
“Over the two legs, we did very well and at one stage we thought we’d win in Dortmund and lost at the 91st. We conceded a late goal here too and ultimately those were decisive. I thank everyone, the fans, the media, it was a fantastic experience. It would’ve been wonderful to go through to the next round past Borussia Dortmund, but this disappointment will pass tomorrow.”
Gasperini then commented on Dortmund’s equaliser in tonight’s game.
“It was a decisive moment, we were countering well and dangerous with Ilicic and Cristante, so a goal would’ve finished it off. Their goal was a bit of a fluke out of nowhere. There are clearly regrets, but we feel that we represented Italy well in Europe and that was our main objective, as at the start people feared we’d be torn apart.”
Atalanta weren’t considered to pose a threat in the Europa League as the side from Bergamo were ridiculed in the English Press. Ahead of their game against Lyon, Nail Fakir claimed that he’d never heard of Atalanta captain Papu Gomez.
Gasperini noted how well his side had performed in the Europa League this season and insisted that his group had done a good job representing Italian sides in Europe.
“Every game we played was on a par with the opposition or superior to them, whether English, Spanish or German. These have helped the players grow and earn European experience. Considering we were a Cinderella side, the tournament went well. We won’t get depressed about this, it was a competition we were passionate about, as it was a novelty, but we will get over it. We’re more pig-headed than that! We are all enriched from the experience. What matters to me is that Bergamo represented Italy well. I have to say, it was lovely today that the fans from other clubs were cheering us on in the Europa League and we thank them.”