11 December 2019: Atalanta’s magical night in Donetsk, advancing to Champions League round of 16

On the historic day of 11th December 2019, the city of Bergamo swelled with pride as Atalanta stunned the football world by securing a place in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, a feat that was neither expected nor perceived achievable.

From a devastating start in Zagreb to a triumphant finish in Donetsk, Atalanta defied critics who once considered their participation as detrimental to Italy’s UEFA rankings. Atalanta, tasked with overcoming the group stage in spectacular fashion in Ukraine, watched with bated breath for a Dinamo defeat by Manchester City.

The match, initially poised at a stalemate of 0-0, found its turning point when Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez assisted Timothy Castagne to break the deadlock, only for the goal to face a temporary setback due to an offside call. The referee, however, upon a VAR review, marked the centre of the field, signalling the validity of the goal, ensuing in uncontrolled jubilation among the team and fans alike.

Adding to Shakhtar Donetsk’s troubles, Dodo’s expulsion for a foul on Remo Freuler paved the path to Atalanta’s climb to dominance. A subsequent free kick from the right flank saw Mario Pasalic doubling the lead, earning himself the title of ‘man of the hour’. Credit was also due to goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini for his commendable saves, which preceded a match-sealing goal by Robin Gosens. The final score being Shakhtar 0, Atalanta 3, And so, Atalanta soared their way into the top 16 of Europe.

Joyous tears were shed, victory flags unfurled across the city centre as Bergamo slipped into celebration. The rest, as they say, is history.

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