Josip Ilicic said he improves with age after scoring four goals as Atalanta’s fairytale Champions League run continued against Valencia.
Ilicic’s stunning haul led Atalanta to a 4-3 win away to LaLiga outfit Valencia on Tuesday and an 8-4 aggregate triumph in the last 16.
The 32-year-old attacker became the oldest player to score a hat-trick away from home in the Champions League as Serie A side Atalanta reached their first quarter-final in Europe’s premier club competition.
Slovenian veteran Ilicic also became the first player to score four goals in a Champions League knockout away game.
32y 41d – Atalanta’s Josip Iličić has become the oldest player to score an away Champions League hat-trick, aged 32 years and 41 days. Evergreen. pic.twitter.com/1aOlKQxpfn
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2020
“Atalanta aren’t a surprise any longer. We’re doing great things and want to carry on,” Ilicic, who scored in the first leg, said afterwards.
“We want to show we deserve to be here and improve day by day.
“I improve with age – I am having fun and want to carry on improving.”
Atalanta continue to fly high this season – Gian Piero Gasperini’s side having scored a league-high 70 goals to sit fourth in Serie A.
The Italian entertainers have also netted 16 goals en route to the Champions League quarters.
FOUR-GOAL HERO #UCLMOTM
— Atalanta B.C. (@Atalanta_BC) March 10, 2020
“It’s never normal to score so many goals – often four – it truly is special, both in the domestic league and in the UEFA Champions League,” head coach Gasperini said.
“We’ve won four games in a row, and the Champions League helps us improve. For now we’re very happy with what we’ve achieved.”
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