Villarreal became the last team to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League as Dutch international Arnaut Danjuma’s brace helped them to a 3-2 win against Atalanta in their last Group reorganized game. F Thursday.
The game was scheduled to take place on Wednesday but was postponed due to snow, and Villarreal wasted no time getting in the driver’s seat, with Danjuma in the race to break the deadlock in three minutes.
Atalanta had more of the ball in Bergamo and managed numerous goal attempts, but their wastage proved costly as Etienne Capoue made it 2-0 three minutes before the break.
The home side knew that only victory would secure them the last qualifying place of the last 16 in the squad behind Manchester United, and came out for the second half in all-out attack mode.
On the other end, however, Danjuma seemed to put the result beyond doubt in the 51st minute with a nice goal on the corner, before substitute Ruslan Malinovskiy came home to give Atalanta hope in 19 minutes from the end.
Duvan Zapata scored again for Atalanta with a well-scored goal, but it was not enough as Villarreal secured second place, four points ahead of the Italian side entering the Europa League.
“We started off really badly and in these games it becomes difficult when you fall behind so early,” Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini told Amazon.
“The players put in a lot of good performances, but we missed a bit tonight. When we managed to improve the game, there was none.”
Danjuma’s first came after Atalanta was caught too high on the pitch during a possession grant, with the Villarreal forward slipping through the legs of goalkeeper Juan Musso.
It was the fastest goal Atalanta had ever conceded in the Champions League, but it didn’t disrupt their flow.
Opportunities came and went for the hosts as Capua’s emphatic strike and a smart finish from Danjuma – his 10th goal of the season in all competitions – seemingly ended the game as a contest.
But this Atalanta team did not lack enthusiasm and quickly retaliated. Malinovskiy’s arrow strike didn’t worry Villarreal too much, but Zapata’s sweeping finish did and Luis Muriel hit the post moments later.
The visitors held on, however, and their first Champions League campaign in a decade will continue until the knockout stages.
This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing.