VALENCIA: Atalanta of Italy and RB Leipzig from Germany have both reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
Josip Ilicic hit four goals as Atalanta won a thriller behind closed doors in Valencia. Atalanta, leading 4-1 from the first leg in Italy, secured a 4-3 win on the night and 8-4 aggregate success as Ilicic stole the show for the visitors.
Atalanta are the first Champions League debutants to reach the quarter-final since Leicester City in 2016-17, and the first Italian side to do so since in their maiden campaign since Lazio in 1999-2000.
Atalanta scored eight goals over both legs against Valencia, as many goals as they scored during the group stages of this season’s tournament.
The Slovenia striker scored two first-half penalties to seemingly wrap up the tie, only for a Kevin Gameiro brace and a Ferran Torres strike to give Valencia hope of a shock comeback.
That would change when Ilicic added his third and fourth in the last 20 minutes, with the Serie A club eventually running out 8-4 aggregate winners.
Iličić became the fourth different player in Champions League history to score four goals in a knockout-stage match, after Lionel Messi (2009-10 & 2011-12), Mario Gomez (2011-12) and Robert Lewandowski (2012-13).
Valencia thus remained winless in 10 Champions League knockout-stage matches since beating Internazionale in the quarter-final second leg in 2002-03, the longest such run in the competition’s history.
Valencia have now been eliminated on each of the last three occasions they have reached the last 16 (also 2010-11 vs Schalke and 2012-13 vs PSG).
Tottenham were unable to deliver another Champions League miracle as they were torn apart by RB Leipzig in the last 16.
Shorn of key players in attacking areas, Spurs had to overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit but slumped to a 3-0 defeat in east Germany and crashed out.
Marcel Sabitzer scored twice in the opening 21 minutes, Hugo Lloris culpable for both goals, to put the Premier League club on the brink of elimination and they were unable to reproduce their remarkable comeback from the same situation at Ajax in last season’s semi-final.
Emil Forsberg completed the rout late on with his first touch as Spurs bowed out with a whimper.
Defeat, on a back of a disappointing exit to Norwich in the FA Cup last week, leaves Jose Mourinho with no prospect of silverware this season.
He now has nine games left in the Premier League to try and ensure Tottenham are back in the Champions League next season, but even that is looking unlikely given their position in the Premier League table.
There were mitigating circumstances for this defeat given his side were missing the likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Steven Bergwijn.
But the way they were unable to repel Leipzig over the two legs highlights how weak they are in defence, with goalkeeper Lloris also letting them down.
The Bundesliga side, though, managed by 32-year-old manager Julian Nagelsmann, nicknamed ‘Baby Mourinho’, moved into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in their history – as tipped by Sporting Life’s Tom Carnduff in our outright preview at the start of the season.
Spurs manager José Mourinho is winless in six matches in all competitions (D2 L4) – the longest winless run of his entire managerial career, with tonight his 935th match.
Spurs’ suffered a UEFA European knockout defeat by 4+ goals on aggregate for only the third time, losing 5-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the 2010-11 Champions League and 5-1 to Borussia Dortmund in the 2015-16 Europa League.
Manager José Mourinho suffered his joint-heaviest Champions League defeat, with this result equalling the 4-1 defeat he suffered with Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund in April 2013.
Aged 32 years and 231 days, RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann is the youngest ever manager to progress from a Champions League knockout tie.
Two of Spurs’ three defeats in all competitions by 3+ goals this season have come in the Champions League (also 2-7 v Bayern Munich in October 2019).
Spurs manager José Mourinho suffered three consecutive Champions League defeats for the first time, with the Portuguese also winless in eight Champions League knockout matches (D4 L4).
Only Aston Villa (42) have conceded more goals among Premier League clubs in all competitions than Spurs (38) since José Mourinho’s first game in charge last November.
RB Leipzig’s Marcel Sabitzer has been directly involved in eight goals in his last 10 Champions League appearances (4 goals, 4 assists).
Spurs lost all four of their Champions League games this season against German opponents (two vs Bayern Munich, two vs RB Leipzig) – the only team to lose more games against teams from a single nation in a season were Leeds United in 2000-01, losing five against Spanish opposition.