Atalanta reach Champions League ahead of Europa showdown

AFP , Saturday 18 May 2024

Atalanta qualified for the Champions League on Saturday after winning 2-0 at Lecce in what was simple preparation for their first-ever European final.

Lecce s Roberto Piccoli, left, and Atalanta s Rafael Toloi battle for the ball during the Serie A soccer match between US Lecce and Atalanta BC at the Via del Mare Stadium, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Lecce, Italy. AP


Goals from star attackers Charles De Ketelaere and Gianluca Scamacca ensured Atalanta would finish at worst fifth in Serie A, guaranteeing them a spot in Europe's top club competition.

Atalanta, who have a game in hand, are six points ahead of sixth-placed Roma with two rounds of matches remaining in the season.

They also have the better of the head-to-head record which decides placings for teams who have played each other twice and are locked on the same points.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side face Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final on Wednesday as a fabulous season heads towards what could be a historic climax.

Atalanta missed their first chance to claim a first major trophy since 1963 midweek when they lost the Italian Cup final to Juventus.

Should they become in Dublin the first team to beat German champions Leverkusen this season Atalanta could give an extra Champions League spot to Serie A, but only if they also finish no higher than fifth.

Atalanta are one point behind Bologna and Juventus, who sit third and fourth respectively and are separated by goal difference ahead of their match on Monday night.

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