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Atalanta make easy work of Valencia in UCL rout (video)

Atalanta v Valencia CF - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 19: Hans Hateboer of Atalanta (L) celebrates his goal with Robin Gosens of Atalanta (R) during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Atalanta and Valencia CF at San Siro Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

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Atalanta announced themselves as the darling side of this season’s UEFA Champions League — just as Ajax famously did a year ago — with a thoroughly dominant 4-1 steamrolling of Valencia at the San Siro Stadium in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

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Last season’s third-place finishers in Serie A have thus far made the most of their maiden voyage in the Champions League, and they sit comfortably just 90 minutes from the quarterfinals.

Atalanta opened the scoring the 16th minute, by way of a redirect from Hans Hateboer. Alejandro Gomez whipped a cross in from the left side and Hateboer held a strong position in front of goal and did just enough to force the ball past Jaume Domenech.

Valencia went ever so close to an equalizer right on the half-hour mark, but 19-year-old Ferran Torres smashed the upper-90 where post meets crossbar from an incredibly tight angle.

Atalanta converted nearly constant pressure into a two-goal lead not long before halftime. Josip Ilicic held off two defenders on the edge of the box and rifled a right-footed arrow into the upper-90 at the far post, giving Atalanta a hugely deserved 2-0 lead at the end of a dominant first-half display.

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Goal no. 3 was the best of the bunch for Atalanta, and a moment the Nerazzurri fans will savor for some time. Remo Freuler received the ball at the corner of the box and took a series of touches to position himself slightly more centrally and swing a curling ball toward the far post and nestle it into the side netting.

The fourth goal came just five minutes later, courtesy of Hateboer who hadn’t scored a single goal all season prior to Wednesday.

Valencia grabbed what could perhaps be an important away goal in the 66th. They will host the second leg back at the Mestalla Stadium on March 7.

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