Wednesday February 19 2020
Ilicic: 'Atalanta no longer a surprise'

Josip Ilicic reveals why he scored that stunner with his weaker right foot in a 4-1 Champions League win over Valencia. “Atalanta are no longer a surprise.”

The Slovenian scored a scorching strike, along with the Hans Hateboer brace and Remo Freuler curler, while Denis Cheryshev’s daisy-cutter provided the away goal.

“They closed me down twice on my left foot, so that time I tried with my right and it went well,” Ilicic told Sky Sport Italia.

“I tried scoring a tap-in in the second half, but maybe I’m just not capable of easy goals!”

La Dea had been 4-0 up and completely dominant at San Siro.

“We prepared this game the same way we always do and had a great first half, allowing them practically nothing. It’s a pity we conceded that away goal, but Valencia are a strong team and we forced them to play badly with our football.

“We knew their centre-backs didn’t push up much, so that’s why the coach whose me with Papu Gomez upfront. We were very dangerous, especially in the first half, but we can do better.

“Atalanta are no longer a surprise, we’ve proved so many times that we don’t give in. We’re doing some really important things here.”

The second leg will be at the Mestalla on March 10, with a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals at stake.

“It’s going to be a little different. I played two friendlies there and I know the crowd really pushes the team on. We need to be absolutely focused in the opening stages, because with a 4-1 to make up for, Valencia will certainly try to start strong.

“However, if we play the way we did here, then we’ll cause them more problems. We also thank Pierluigi Gollini, who was fundamental in the difficult moments.”