Atalanta were sent crashing out of the Europa League, as they conceded late on to draw 1-1 against Borussia Dortmund at the Mapei Stadium, and lose 4-3 on aggregate.
The Italians took an early lead through Rafael Toloi, who turned in from a corner and looked to have put his side on their way to an away goals victory. Indeed, La Dea were looking comfortable but wasted a number of chances, before Marcel Schmelzer took advantage of a goalkeeping error to equalise late on.
It would prove to be enough for the German outfit, who secured the 1-1 draw and progressed to the Round of 16, courtesy of a 3-2 victory in the first leg last week.
Atalanta started brightly and came close to drawing level in the tie early on. Alejandro Gomez’s looping cross was almost met by an acrobatic Josip Ilicic overhead kick, before the ball was knocked back to Marten De Roon. The Dutchman could only blaze over from the edge of the box however.
Dortmund were not without a threat of their own, and a magnificent Mario Gotze pass into the feet of Christian Pulisic in the box allowed the latter to tee up the former, only for Gotze to be crowded out as he looked to pull the trigger.
With just over 10 minutes on the clock, Atalanta broke the deadlock. Leonardo Spinazzola’s charge into the box earned a corner and a Mattia Caldara challenge for the ball forced Roman Burki into a poor punch, which was duly punished by Toloi at the back post. The centre-back got ahead of Sokratis Papastathopoulos to poke home.
Midway through the half the hosts ought to have taken the lead in the tie, as Bryan Cristante squandered a wonderful opportunity. Remo Freuler did well to regain possession before finding Gomez and the Atalanta captain delivered a perfectly weighted ball over the top. Charging in, Cristante got his head to the ball but could only nod wide from four yards out.
However, the visitors came close to levelling as they enjoyed a period of dominance in the latter part of the first half. Michy Batshuayi’s shot cannoned back into the path of Andre Schurrle, whose curling effort whistled over the bar.
Moments later, Dortmund had the ball in the back of the net and looked to have secured an away goal. After a poor freekick was cleared out of the box, Schurrle lofted the ball over the top of the defence, and it was smartly tucked away by Gotze. The midfielder had strayed slightly offside however, and saw his effort chalked off.
After the break, Dortmund grew into the game and began to take hold of possession. Despite this, it was Atalanta who enjoyed the best of the early chances, as Cristante drove into the box and nudged the ball into the path of Caldara, who had stayed up from an earlier corner. The centre-back’s shot came off Omer Toprak at close range though.
With the introduction of Marco Reus on the hour mark, the German outfit were beginning to test Atalanta’s backline. Quick feet allowed Gotze and Reus to knock the ball across the edge of the box before it was played out wide to Schmelzer, and the full-back’s threatening cross was headed clear at the back post by Spinazzola.
Despite their new found confidence, Dortmund almost gifted Atalanta a second goal midway through the second half. Under little pressure, Schurrle hit a sloppy pass across his own defensive line and it required quick thinking from Burki to clear before Ilicic could steal in.
As Dortmund pushed forward, the hosts sought to strike with a sucker punch on the counterattack, and it was Cristante at the heart of the action. The former AC Milan midfielder hit a wonderful long range pass to release Ilicic, who skipped past Toprak but could only poke the ball wide of the far post.
Late on, La Dea missed a glorious opportunity to seal victory. Cristante took advantage of Toprak’s missed header to get behind the defence and cut across the box for Gomez, but the Argentine could only fire at Burki from close range.
Atalanta would rue that costly miss moments later, as Dortmund finally broke through. Reus’ long shot was spilt by Etrit Berisha, into the path of Schmelzer to blast into the back of the net.
Try as they might, Atalanta were unable to carve open Dortmund’s defence and were ultimately sent crashing out of the competition.