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Four-goal Atalanta hold off Genoa to book Champions League spot


Milan (AFP) – Atalanta sealed their spot in the Champions League for a third consecutive season on Saturday with a 4-3 win over Genoa.

The Bergamo side are second, three points ahead of AC Milan, and are assured of elite European football before the two teams go head-to-head next weekend.

Atalanta paved the way with three first half goals. 

Ruslan Malinovskyi set up Duvan Zapata for the opener and then scored himself, with Robin Gosens grabbing a third before the break.

Mario Pasalic added a fourth six minutes after the break before 14th-placed Genoa hit back with an Eldor Shomurodov brace either side of a Goran Pandev goal just after an hour.

“For us, returning to the Champions League this year tastes better,” said coach Gian Piero Gasperini, who brought the Bergamo side to elite European football for the first time in the 2019-2020 season.

“Three times in the Champions League is a great achievement. The trophy would be the icing on the cake, but we are convinced that we have won a lot anyway.”

Atalanta will bid for just their second ever trophy in the Coppa Italia final against Juventus next Wednesday in Reggio Emilia.

The club won the Coppa Italia back in 1963.

Even if Milan, who host 15th-placed Cagliari on Sunday, win their last two matches, Atalanta are now assured of a top-four finish.

Fifth-placed Juventus play champions Inter Milan later Saturday while fourth-placed Napoli travel to Fiorentina on Sunday.

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