Atalanta 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb: Breakthrough win keeps hosts' hopes alive

By Brendan McLoughlin 27 November 2019 9
Atalanta 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb: Breakthrough win keeps hosts' hopes alive

Atalanta kept their slim hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stages alive as they claimed a deserved 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb.

Goals in either half from Luis Muriel and Alejandro Gomez earned the Serie A side their first Champions League victory, having been thrashed when the sides met earlier in the campaign.

Three points for Atalanta mean there is now a three-way fight for the second qualification spot behind group winners Manchester City heading into matchday six, despite Shakhtar Donetsk's draw at the Etihad Stadium.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side still trail both Dinamo and Shakhtar, who they must beat in the final game while hoping the Zagreb side fail to beat City. 

Atalanta made the more purposeful start on Tuesday and took a deserved 27th-minute lead.

The visitors looked to have escaped when Robin Gosens' thunderous volley cannoned off the crossbar, yet Dino Peric clumsily caught Muriel in his attempts to clear the rebound.

Muriel dusted himself down and made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic the wrong way with a cool side-footed effort.

The Colombian striker should have added to his tally before the interval, too, twice blazing presentable opportunities over the crossbar.

But within two minutes of the restart, Atalanta had doubled their advantage in some style as skipper Gomez cut in from the right, danced his way past Luka Ivanusec and drilled a low shot inside the left-hand post.

It was a dominant display from the hosts, who looked the more likely to grab the game's third goal, with Gomez thwarted by Livakovic late on.

What does it mean? Atalanta give themselves hope

Only a win would do here for the Italian side, and they delivered with their best performance in the Champions League to date. Now they will have to do it all over again against Shakhtar, who are two points ahead, in their final game. Dinamo still remain in contention, too, in what promises to be a dramatic conclusion to Group C.

Muriel move pays dividends

Having had to settle for a place on the bench against Juventus last time out, Muriel justified his inclusion from the start with a goal from the penalty spot. It was his first in Europe this season, having already scored eight times in Serie A.

Dinamo disappoint in crunch game

Dinamo were a pale imitation of the side who defeated Atalanta 4-0 on matchday one as their struggles away from home in the Champions League continued. This result made it just a solitary point collected from their three group games on the road.

Key Opta Facts

- Atalanta have lost just once in their past 15 home games in all European competition (W7 D7 L1). Their win here was their first ever in the Champions League.
- Dinamo Zagreb are without a win in each of their past 18 away Champions League games, losing 15 times in this run (D3).
- Luis Muriel netted his first ever Champions League goal in what was his 12th appearance in the competition.

What's next?

A Serie A trip to Brescia awaits Atalanta on Saturday, while Dinamo are in domestic action the same day, travelling to NK Istra 1961.

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Brendan McLoughlin