Atalanta’s Champions League debut went from dream to nightmare with a 4-0 thrashing by Dinamo Zagreb, including Mislav Orsic hat-trick.
This was an historic occasion, as Atalanta made their Champions League debut, becoming the 141st different club to feature in the group stage, the 10th representative from Italy. They had actually met Dinamo Zagreb before, in the 1990-91 UEFA Cup first round, going through on away goals after a 1-1 draw in Croatia.
Josip Ilicic threatened with a dangerous ball that flashed across the face of goal, but Dinamo were very aggressive and took the lead after 10 minutes. After a series of shots were charged down in the box, the Petar Stojanovic ball was rolled across from the right for Marin Leovac to spring the offside trap and slide in from close range.
Atalanta struggled to get into their usual groove and Dinamo doubled their lead, as Leovac pulled back from the left for Orsic to drill low into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Atalanta were getting torn apart at the back, as Ademi nodded a ball back across the face of goal at the back post and Orsic was allowed a free header from a couple of yards for 3-0.
Gian Piero Gasperini transformed his side for the second half with Mario Pasalic and Ruslan Malinovskyi, moving to a 4-3-3 formation.
Pasalic turned a side-foot volley wide on Hans Hateboer’s cross, but Pierluigi Gollini had to prevent Orsic scoring a hat-trick.
It was only postponed, because Orsic did indeed make it a treble when pouncing on a defensive error, as Theophile-Catherine’s punt forward found his teammate oddly unmarked to fire in an angled drive.
Duvan Zapata thought he’d scored the first ever Atalanta Champions League goal when spinning from six yards, but Livakovic somehow managed to palm it away.
Robin Gosens also went close with a header off target at the back post and Pasalic skimmed the far post, but Duvan Zapata missed a sitter when he prodded wide with only the goalkeeper to beat on a Josip Ilicic through ball.
Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 Atalanta
Leovac 10 (D), Orsic 31, 42, 68 (D)
Dinamo Zagreb: Livakovic; Stojanovic, Theophile-Catherine, Peric, Leovac; Moro (Gojak 73), Dilaver, Ademi; Dani Olmo, Petkovic (Gavranovic 83), Orsic (Ivanusec 76)
Atalanta: Gollini; Toloi, Djimsiti, Masiello (Malinovskyi 46); Hateboer, Freuler (Pasalic 46), De Roon, Gosens; Gomez; Ilicic, Duvan Zapata
Ref: Gil Manzano (ESP)
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