Gasperini targets 'extraordinary' finish to season for Coppa finalists Atalanta

Oleh Daniel Lewis 26 April 2019 185
Gasperini targets 'extraordinary' finish to season for Coppa finalists Atalanta

Gian Piero Gasperini warned his Atalanta players that they cannot afford to lose focus in Serie A after booking a place in the Coppa Italia final, which keeps them on course for an "extraordinary" finish to their season.

Fiorentina were beaten 2-1 on Thursday in the second leg of the semi-final tie, Atalanta advancing 5-4 on aggregate following February's eventful opening 90 minutes in Florence.

Luis Muriel opened the scoring inside three minutes but Josip Ilicic soon converted from the spot and Atalanta captain Alejandro Gomez netted in the second half to set up a first final since 1996 for his side.

Atalanta are fifth in the table, level on points with fourth-placed AC Milan and in contention for Champions League football next season but, with five league outings still to go, Gasperini does not want his players to switch off ahead of next month's Coppa showdown with Lazio.

"Now we prepare for Udinese, as we are challenging for something extraordinary," Gasperini told Rai Sport. "The city of Bergamo is buzzing, but we have to bring the results home at the end of it all and reaching Europe for the third year running would be a great achievement.

"This was the most delicate test for us, because it was so close to the Napoli trip. Before the Coppa Italia final, we've got time to prepare and our focus will all be on Serie A. With our position and the fixture list, we have every right to play our cards and take our chances.

"Some of our players felt the strain of Monday's game against Napoli, which took a lot out of us, but that just means they deserve even more praise for fighting through the pain to win tonight."

Defeat for Fiorentina effectively ends their campaign, meanwhile, as they are 15 points adrift of a European spot after going 11 matches without a win across all competitions.

Vincenzo Montella admitted his side only had themselves to blame for their defeat, having conceded a needless penalty through Federico Ceccherini's rash challenge on Gomez before Alban Lafont failed to keep out Gomez's shot for the winner.

"We are here again, with many regrets, as this team plays with heart and soul, but doesn't convert its chances," he said. "It's a pity, because we lost on an avoidable penalty and a goal that we gifted. 

"Now we need to prepare for the Sassuolo game and I'll see who is up for the challenge. We created so many chances over the last three games and lack that ruthlessness in the finishing."

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