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Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta Match Report, 11/12/2019

0 - 3
T. Castagne (66)
M. Pašalić (80)
R. Gosens (90+4)
Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Atalanta: Italians back from the brink as they reach knockout phase
9:00 PM WAT 11/12/2019
Three second-half goals have sent Atalanta through to the knockout phase of the Champions League against the odds.

Atalanta completed their battle back from the brink with a 3-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk to secure Champions League progress in their final Group C game despite not winning any of their first four fixtures.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men needed Manchester City to avoid defeat to Dinamo Zagreb and for themselves to beat Shakhtar in Kharkiv, and the Italians did just enough while Pep Guardiola's men gave them a helping hand with a 4-1 victory in Croatia.

With both sides still in with a great chance of progressing, the first half predictably flittered between tense and entrancing, though Shakhtar looked brighter and will have been disappointed not to make the most of their chances.

Realising the onus was on them as the team that started the round bottom, Atalanta stepped things up after the interval and goals from Timothy Castagne and Mario Pasalic either side of Dodo's controversial red card essentially secured the visitors' progress, before Robin Gosens was gifted a late third.

Amid the entertaining early exchanges, Shakhtar thought they had taken a 16th-minute lead when Viktor Kovalenko steered home from the edge of the box after Alan Patrick's shot was blocked, but it was disallowed for an offside against Tete in the build-up.

Tete was involved again soon after, leaving Andrea Masiello on his backside and cutting a pass back to Taison, only for Jose Luis Palomino to vitally get in the way of the Brazilian's strike.

Junior Moraes was the next to go close late in the half – his header pushed over by Pierluigi Gollini following yet another fine right-wing delivery courtesy of Tete.

Luis Muriel was lucky to avoid a second yellow card early in the second half, the Colombian cynically tripping Dodo when he looked set to burst into the box.

Atalanta then broke the deadlock in the 66th minute – Castagne bundling in from close range after receiving Alejandro Gomez's pass into the danger zone, the goal standing following a lengthy VAR check against the Argentinian, who timed his run just right.

Dodo was dismissed 11 minutes from time for catching Remo Freuler in the face, and Pasalic completed the scoring just after, diverting Ruslan Malinovskiy's free-kick past Andriy Pyatov.

Taras Stepanenko's woeful backpass in stoppage time compounded Shakhtar's misery, as Gosens pounced to round off the win.

What does it mean? Atalanta do the seemingly impossible

After picking up one point from their first four games in this group, Atalanta looked certainties to be eliminated.

But they have fought back brilliantly to secure progression and write a new page in their club's history books with a first-ever qualification for the knockout phase of the Champions League. They were fully deserving of the win here.

Tete a tormentor

Shakhtar winger Tete did not deserve to be on the losing side. The Brazilian was a real livewire, particularly in the first half and caused Atalanta plenty of issues. He faded a little after the break, but he was still the standout player and ended with three chances created.

Stepanenko flops

One of Shakhtar's most experienced players, Stepanenko struggled to offer much cover to the defence and then completely lost his head when gifting Gosens his late goal.

Key Opta Facts

- Shakhtar Donetsk have been eliminated in the Champions League group stage for the third time in their last four campaigns.
- Under the current group-stage format, Atalanta are the first team to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League after losing their opening three games.
- Atalanta recorded their biggest margin of victory in major European competition since November 2017, when they won 5-1 away at Everton in the Europa League.
- This was the third consecutive Champions League campaign in which Shakhtar conceded in all of their games – eight in 2017-18, six in 2018-19 and six this season.

What's next?

Shakhtar's final match until February is on the horizon this Saturday as they go to Zorya Luhansk. Atalanta face Bologna on the road the following day. 

The teams will find out their respective next opponents in Europe on Monday.