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History-makers Atalanta continue Champions League bid at Monza

football21 April 2024 20:56| Ā© AFP
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El Bilal Toure and Ademola Lookman Ā© Getty Images

Atalanta kept up their bid for Champions League football with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Monza on Sunday, fresh from knocking Liverpool out of Europe.

Charles De Ketelaere's header just before halftime and a beautifully taken finish from El Bilal Toure moved Atalanta to within one point of fifth-placed Roma, who host fellow Champions League-chasers Bologna on Monday evening.

A top-five finish in Serie A guarantees a spot in next season's Champions League thanks to Italian clubs' strong performances in continental competition.

Atalanta reached the Europa League semifinals on Thursday in one of the biggest night's in the club's history, and played with confidence at the U-Power Stadium despite Gian Piero Gasperini making a clutch of changes from the team that eliminated Liverpool.

Neither of Sunday's goalscorers started in midweek, with Toure netting his second goal of the season in his first start since signing for Atalanta in July.

Mali forward Toure became Atalanta's record signing when he was bought for 30 million euros plus add-ons from Almeria.

But he has been restricted to substitute appearances after suffering a serious knee injury in August, only returning to action in February.

MALDINI CONSOLATION

However mid-table Monza nearly snatched a point at the last as Daniele Maldini netted an impressive long-range effort in the 89th minute before seeing a similar effort deep in stoppage time hit the inside of the post, roll agonisingly across the goalline and out of play.

Earlier Lecce took a huge leap towards safety from relegation with a thumping 3-0 win at Sassuolo who are at risk of ending their 11-year tenure as a top-flight club.

Lecce are 13th, seven points above the bottom three after a second straight win against direct rivals for the drop which came through early goals from Valentin Gendrey and Patrick Dorgu and Roberto Piccoli's 61st-minute strike.

On Monday night Inter Milan will try to win their 20th Serie A title by beating local rivals AC Milan in a hotly-anticipated local derby.

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