Gian Piero Gasperini says Atalanta have gained “belief in our capabilities” after beating Olympique Lyonnais to win their Europa League group.
Andrea Petagna’s glancing header proved enough on the night, even if they would’ve been top with a draw.
“It was a performance of great focus and concentration, as we were determined to get this result,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“We were daring when it was right to dare, and once we took the lead, we locked it down. In a few situations, we could’ve done better on the counter.
“We had the feeling we could fight it out with Lyon and that is a great sign of how far we have come and how much we believe in our abilities.
“We grew up fast in this competition, as it’s not easy to beat Lyon. It has been a marvellous experience for everyone. The draw will be unpredictable on Monday, but we cared about finishing first because we’ll have the second leg at home.
“We were solid tonight, running risks only when we needed to. This is thanks to the great desire to work hard and make sacrifices for the team.
“Serie A is different to the Europa League, as there are other difficulties involved and more defensively-minded opponents. Lyon arrived with great attacking potential at their disposal and we managed to limit them. I think we could’ve had more goals if we hadn’t misplaced so many passes.”
Atalanta remain unbeaten in Europe with four wins and two draws, including victories against Premier League side Everton of 3-0 and 5-1.
“The opening 3-0 win over Everton gave us the belief and put us in a position to go all the way. The only game we struggled in was the draw away to Lyon. We emerge from this group with more belief in our capabilities.
“This is a great confidence booster. Lyon are in second place, Everton had a few difficulties, but they are getting back on track now. I don’t want to over-exaggerate here, but I think Italian football has value and by playing in Europe, I realise just how difficult Serie A is.
“Topping the group is enormously satisfying. Seeing the crowd tonight, with thousands of people even after qualification was already secure, it’s a great feeling.”
Gasperini was asked if he could be the next Italy Coach after Giampiero Ventura’s dismissal.
“The Nazionale have games in March and I am busy. One day you want to send me to Juventus, the next for the Nazionale. Are you trying to get rid of me?” he joked.