Marten de Roon had no words on Wednesday for the wintering of Atalanta in the Champions League. Thanks to a 0-3 win at Shakthar Donetsk, the Italian club livened up its debut in the Champions League with a place in the eighth finals.
"I don't know," De Roon stammered in front of Atalanta TV 's camera when asked to describe the historic performance in Kharkov, Ukraine. "What can I say. It was a great competition. We gave everything we had. I am so happy because five weeks ago we only had zero points."
After defeats against Dinamo Zagreb (4-0), Shakthar Donetsk (1-2) and Manchester City (5-1), debutant Atalanta seemed hopeless in group C of the million-dollar ball. Thanks to a firm final sprint, the Bergamo club set up. Atalanta played a draw against Manchester City at home and beat Dinamo Zagreb (2-0), to win a ticket for Shakthar Donetsk on Wednesday for the last sixteen.
The victory over Shakthar Donetsk only came about after the break. Halfway through the second half Timothy Castagne broke the spell, after which Atalanta was helped in the saddle by a red card for Shakthar player Dodô. Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens (former Heracles Almelo) put an end to all Italian doubts in the final phase.
"We were confident and deserved the win," said De Roon. "The boys were great. Just like the five, six hundred supporters who came here."
1Summary Shakhtar Donetsk-Atalanta (0-3)
Partly due to the wintering, Atalanta has an extremely successful 2019. The team of coach Gian Piero Gasperini finished third in the Serie A last season, the highest ranking in club history. "We have now written history again", De Roon realized. "I have no further words for it, because I am so happy."
Atalanta is the second club in history that, after three defeats in the first three games, qualified for the final sixteen of the Champions League. Newcastle United had the scoop in the 2002/2003 season.
Atalanta currently occupies sixth place in the ranking. On Monday, the Italian club will know at the draw in Nyon, Switzerland, who the opponent is in the eighth finals of the Champions League. The Bergamo club can be linked to FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Liverpool, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Valencia.