Sunday, November 18, 2018

Borussia Dortmund 3 Atalanta 2: Batshuayi late show snatches victory

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 15 Feb 2018

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Michy Batshuayi’s sensational start to life at Borussia Dortmund continued apace at Signal Iduna Park on Thursday as another double sealed a 3-2 Europa League victory over Atalanta.

Belgium striker Batshuayi has made an immediate impact since joining Dortmund and continued his goalscoring run with a pair of second-half strikes to secure a slender advantage.

Atalanta topped a group including French contenders Lyon and Everton, and threatened another surprise as Josip Ilicic scored twice in quick succession to turn the game around after Andre Schurrle had put Dortmund ahead with just his second goal of the season.

However, Batshuayi sealed a double of his own to put Dortmund on top and preserve Stoger’s unbeaten home record with Dortmund.

The Chelsea loanee produced a pair of unerring finishes to take his tally to five goals in just three games, proving an able replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and perhaps showing Antonio Conte what he has missed out on.

Dortmund will need the Belgian on fine form again in a week’s time, although this stirring comeback and Atalanta’s recent defeats to Napoli and Juventus on home turf will give the Bundesliga side confidence of making the next round.

With the ‘Yellow Wall’ in fine voice, Dortmund made a positive start and Marco Reus went close to an early nerve-settler, but pulled his low shot wide, having been released by the impressive Schurrle.

Atalanta were just as threatening at the other end and a brisk counter-attack opened up a chance for Bryan Cristante, though his effort was blocked by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mattia Caldara failed to convert the resulting corner at the back post.

Having survived that scare, Dortmund began to take control, only for the finishing of Schurrle and Batshuayi to let them down.

Both would later make amends, with the Germany winger doing so on the half-hour, reacting quickly to slide home the opener after an initial heavy touch controlling Lukasz Piszczek’s pass.

Atalanta seemed to react to coach Gian Piero Gasperini’s instructions after the break and the Italians were ahead within 10 minutes of the restart.

Ilicic grabbed both goals to silence Signal Iduna Park, the first a curling effort after taking down Leonardo Spinazzola’s cross, while his second was a simple tap-in after Roman Burki failed to hold Cristante’s effort. 

Their lead only lasted nine minutes, as Batshuayi was allowed to advance upfield and pick his spot, Etrit Berisha left grasping at a fine long-range effort.

And there was one final twist as Batshuayi secured a first-leg victory with a stoppage-time winner, pouncing on Mario Gotze’s pass after a terrible clearance from Rafael Toloi.

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