Atalanta were extremely unlucky to go out over two legs to Borussia Dortmund, as a late goal – and Etrit Berisha error – made the difference…
The Orobici had been leading 2-1 in Dortmund before a late Michy Batshuayi brace, so the 3-2 first leg result left them in good stead for qualification to the final 16. Midfielder Julian Weigl was suspended, but Mario Gotze stepped in to start with Andre Schurrle and Christian Pulisic.
In the opening four minutes, Josip Ilicic failed an attempted overhead kick and Marten de Roon blasted over the bar, but Atalanta took the lead – and went ahead on aggregate with away goals – when Mattia Caldara flicked on a corner and Rafael Toloi stuck out a leg to prod in at the back post.
It was fitting that the defender whose two mistakes proved so costly in Dortmund should find the net here.
Leonardo Spinazzola and Papu Gomez completed a rapid give-and-go before the crucial deflection, while Ilicic was twice wrestled to the ground on the counter.
Cristante wasted a massive opportunity to double their lead, as he sprung the offside trap to meet a Gomez cross with Roman Burki rushing out, but turned the free header wide.
Burki also made a big reaction save with his chest, but De Roon had wandered offside, while Etrit Berisha beat away an Andre Schurrle effort.
Much like the first leg, it was a chaotic and thrilling encounter. Mario Gotze had the ball in the net after he was flagged offside, then De Roon gave the ball away and risked an own goal in his attempt to get it back off Batshuayi, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos made a last-ditch tackle on Gomez.
Straight after the restart, Papu couldn’t quite reach the Freuler cross-shot at the back post, then Omer Toprak decisively deflected a Caldara finish over the bar. Ilicic tried to dribble through the entire Borussia Dortmund defence and was eventually closed down.
Burki had to come flying off his line to rescue a Schurrle back-pass, then Ilicic’s angled drive whistled just past the post.
Batshuayi’s angled drive was comfortably smothered by Berisha, but Burki was absolutely decisive one-on-one with Gomez after Cristante rolled across. At the other end, Berisha performed a stunning reaction save on Schurrle from 10 yards to keep Atalanta ahead.
Heartbreakingly, Berisha then got it all wrong on the equaliser, spilling a harmless Marco Reus attempt so Marcel Schmelzer pounced on the rebound.
Gian Piero Gasperini didn’t make any substitutions until the final minutes and the fatigue had already been starting to show.
Atalanta 1-1 Borussia Dortmund (3-4 on agg)
Toloi 11 (A), Schmelzer 83 (B)
Atalanta: Berisha; Toloi (Cornelius 88), Caldara, Masiello; Hateboer, De Roon (Petagna 87), Freuler, Spinazzola; Cristante; Ilicic, Gomez
Borussia Dortmund: Burki; Toljan (Schmelzer 46), Toprak, Papastathopoulos, Piszczek; Dahoud (Isak 81), Sahin; Pulisic (Reus 59), Gotze, Schurrle; Batshuayi
Ref: Manzano (ESP)