Marseille knocked out before Europa League final as Atalanta dominate

Atalanta claimed the biggest win in their history on Thursday after sweeping aside Marseille 3-0 and booking a place in the Europa League final.

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Goals from Ademola Lookman, academy product Matteo Ruggeri and El Bilal Toure put Atalanta through to their first ever European final with a 4-1 aggregate win in front of delirious fans in Bergamo.

Atalanta’s passage to the Dublin final, where they will face Bayer Leverkusen, later this month was fully deserved after a dominant performance in which Marseille barely had a kick in yet another poor away display from the Ligue 1 outfit.

Marseille have won just four games on the road in all competitions this season and once Ruggeri put Atalanta two ahead in the 52nd minute Jean-Louis Gasset’s team had no way back, Toure adding the icing on the cake in stoppage time.

“We’ll try to put them (Leverkusen) in difficulty, but we can’t think about that now, we have to take it one game at a time,” said Ruggeri to Sky Sport.

“Let’s hope we can keep going, we’ve just got to enjoy the moment and give it our best shot in the final.”

Atalanta, a traditionally provincial team who have under Gian Piero Gasperini habitually punched above their weight, could now end the season with two trophies as they face Juventus in the Italian Cup on Wednesday.

That is a remarkable achievement for a club whose only major trophy is the 1963 Italian Cup, while the furthest Atalanta had previously gone in European competition was the last four in the 1988 Cup Winners’ Cup when they were a second division team.

Atalanta can also qualify for next season’s revamped Champions League through Serie A as they currently sit in Italy’s fifth and final position for Europe’s top club competition.

They host Roma, who pushed Leverkusen all the way in the other semi-final, on Sunday night in a match which could well decide who finishes in the top five.

“It was incredible not just for us, but for the people of Bergamo. It’s an incredible result,” said Atalanta president Antonio Percassi.

“We always start the season saying we want to avoid relegation. Where we are now is just unthinkable.”

Atalanta dominateĀ 

Atalanta dominated from the first whistle and were unlucky not to be ahead in the sixth minute when Charles De Ketelaere struck the outside of the post.

Gianluca Scamacca flashed a good effort just wide 10 minutes later and then shortly afterwards the in-form striker smacked a close-range finish off the bar following chaos at a corner before Pau Lopez pushed away De Ketelaere’s header on the rebound.

And right on the half-hour Lookman put Atalanta ahead on the night and in the tie with his 12th goal of the season, the Nigeria striker’s shot taking a wicked deflection off Samuel Gigot’s boot before squirming past Lopez.

The hosts came out for the second half with less urgency and they were almost punished by Marseille four minutes after the restart when Iliman Ndiaye miscued his lob with Atalanta goalkeeper Juan Musso off his line.

And Marseille were punished two minutes later with Ranieri’s sensational second goal of the campaign, the Atalanta academy product rifling in an unstoppable shot after exchanging passes with Lookman.

Marseille could have got back into the tie when Jordan Veretout’s overhit free-kick surprised Musso and clipped the top of the crossbar.

But that would have been more than the French side deserved from a one-sided match, and with the clock running down and fireworks already exploding outside the stadium Toure charged through unopposed and gave the match a scoreline that represented the balance of play.

Toure’s calm finish was his third of a difficult season in which the Mali forward — Atalanta’s record signing — has been restricted to substitute appearances after suffering a serious knee injury in August, only returning to action in February.

(AFP)

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