Europa League winners Atalanta bask in hero's welcome on home return

football26 May 2024 22:45| © AFP
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The Europa League trophy that the team recently won is paraded for the fans © Getty Images


Atalanta were given a hero's welcome on Sunday as the Europa League winners strolled past Torino 3-0 in a festive homecoming after their stunning triumph over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin.

Rain and storms have battered northern Italy for most of a soaking wet spring but the sun shone powerfully on the Gewiss Stadium as fans hailed the team that Wednesday swatted aside Leverkusen by the same score in the Europa League final.

Fresh from winning their first ever European trophy – their first major honour of any sort since 1963 – and having already qualified for the Champions League, Atalanta could have been forgiven for going through the motions in a party atmosphere.

But instead Gian Piero Gasperini's side thumped Torino to move up to fourth and give themselves a chance to equal their best ever finish of third by winning next weekend's game in hand with Fiorentina.

Atalanta's loud home support chanted "we're the champions of Europe!" at the end of a typically swashbuckling performance against sorry Torino, after which the team paraded the Europa League trophy on the pitch to further chants of "thank you, lads".

Gasperini's future has been the hot topic in Bergamo, with persistent rumours of talks with Napoli, who finished their dismal campaign as defending champions with a goalless draw with Lecce.

The 66-year-old, who has been in charge since 2016, had described Napoli as a beautiful woman tempting him away from his wife, but after Sunday's win he confirmed that he would remain faithful.

"After eight years you can get to the stage when you feel some tiredness and think that maybe next year is the time to make a change," said Gasperini to DAZN.

"It's normal that both sides take time to think about these things. But we're going to continue together and we're all happy about it."

And after Gasperini held aloft the trophy to huge cheers the crowd belted out a chant of "we're gonna win the league!".

"Fans need to dream. It's right that they dream big, but if you ask me if we can win the Scudetto I have to say no," a realistic Gasperini then told reporters.


Before the match, fans in the Curva Nord section invited Duvan Zapata, who is on loan from Atalanta at Torino, for a warm round of applause, a scarf and a gigantic bottle of local wine.

Former Colombia forward Zapata led the line for the thrilling Atalanta team which was desperately unlucky to be knocked out of the Covid 19-hit Champions League quarterfinals by Paris Saint-Germain in 2020.

Bergamo was ground zero for the pandemic in Europe and Atalanta have been a ray of light for a city which was deeply scarred.

And as Atalanta walked out through a guard of honour, fans showed their appreciation for the team with a giant banner which read "Thank you for this fantastic season".

Wednesday night's hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman was again on target, sweeping home the hosts' second just before halftime after in-form striker Gianluca Scamacca celebrated his Italy call-up with a beautiful finish midway through the first half.

The difference on and off the pitch between Atalanta and Torino, a far more storied club, could not have been more stark as the hosts ran riot in their shiny redeveloped stadium and looked forward to Champions League football.

Mario Pasalic added a third from the penalty spot in the 71st minute but Atalanta could have run out even heavier winners as they had three goals chalked off, one for a very soft-looking Scamacca foul.

M'Baye Niang shot Empoli to Serie A safety with his winner in the third minute of stoppage time, the Tuscans beating Roma 2-1 and sending Frosinone to Serie B.

Frosinone lost 1-0 to Udinese and dropped into the bottom three, one point behind Empoli, after Niang's last-gasp winner, becoming the final team to be relegated to the second division.

Champions Inter Milan closed out their triumphant season with a 2-2 draw at Verona.