Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay has become the first LaLiga player to confirm he has contracted coronavirus.

The defender, who was due to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament last month, made the announcement on Instagram on Sunday but said he feels "very well".

LaLiga is currently at the start of a two-matchweek break while the Spanish government is set to declare a 15-day national lockdown on Monday in an attempt to fight the pandemic.

Garay wrote: "It is clear I have started 2020 badly.

"I have tested positive for coronavirus but feel very well. Now it only remains to pay attention to the health authorities and, for now, be isolated."

Garay, 33, started 17 LaLiga games for Valencia this season and four in the Champions League.

Albert Celades' team are seventh in the Spanish top-flight, four points adrift of fourth-placed Real Sociedad. Their Champions League adventure came to an end last week with an 8-4 aggregate defeat to Atalanta.

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.

"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.

"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."

Atalanta have requested supporters do not celebrate their historic Champions League quarter-final qualification with public gatherings after Italy was put on lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side played out a thrilling 4-3 win over Valencia at Mestalla on Tuesday, with Josip Ilicic scoring all of Atalanta's goals in a wonderful individual display.

Victory secured Atalanta an 8-4 aggregate win, seeing them qualify for the last eight for the first time.

But the club has urged fans to not greet them at the airport or have public gatherings to celebrate, with a government decree on Monday putting the country on lockdown following the spread of COVID-19.

A statement posted on Twitter read: "Atalanta, in compliance with the Ministerial Decree of March 9, for the purpose of safeguarding public health, invites all people not to create gatherings in the center of Bergamo, at the Orio al Serio airport or at the Centro Bortolotti [Atalanta's training base] in Zingonia when the team returns from Valencia."

Josip Ilicic produced a sublime individual display as his four-goal haul led Atalanta to a 4-3 win away to Valencia, securing an 8-4 aggregate triumph and a first Champions League quarter-final.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men travelled to Valencia on the back of a comprehensive 4-1 win at San Siro and that coupled with the efforts of the exceptional Ilicic at Mestalla took Atalanta through to the last eight, the two sides playing out a thriller despite no fans being in attendance as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

Atalanta went into the break with a deserved lead, as Ilicic won and scored a pair of penalties either side of a poacher's effort from Kevin Gameiro.

Gameiro got a second to pull Valencia level and Ferran Torres put them in front for the first time on the night, but Ilicic completed his hat-trick with a fine strike before earning the visitors the victory with another excellent effort.

Ilicic showed a sign of things to come after just three minutes as he lured Mouctar Diakhaby into a clumsy challenge with a clever turn after a brilliant solo run, and the Slovenia international converted the spot-kick confidently.

Gameiro got Valencia back on level terms for the match, slotting into an empty net despite Jose Luis Palomino initially doing well to cut out Rodrigo Moreno's throughball.

But Atalanta were in front again just before half-time – Ilicic dispatching another penalty after his run into the box was halted by Diakhaby handling the ball.

The second half began at breathtaking speed and Valencia were fortunate to not concede again, as Remo Freuler's long-range effort struck the crossbar, but the hosts equalised less than a minute later – Gameiro heading in Ferran's delivery.

Ferran then got himself on the scoresheet with a clever finish over the approaching Marco Sportiello, only for Ilicic to deny Valencia a victory.

Ilicic finished clinically after beating Dani Parejo on the edge of the box, before completing the scoring by caressing a first-time shot into the top-left corner with eight minutes remaining.

 

What does it mean? Atalanta a force to be reckoned with

Unfortunately, Atalanta's chances of really making a dent in the latter stages of this competition are likely to be heavily impacted by the lack of football that awaits them with all sporting events in Italy suspended until April 3.

But, whatever their fate, Gasperini's side will certainly provide us with a little more fun, particularly with the wonderful Ilicic.

Ilicic toys with the Valencia defence

No one else on the pitch came close to Ilicic in terms of quality on Tuesday. The forward was simply unplayable – his elegance and craft leaving the Valencia defence in knots on a regular basis. He won and converted both penalties, while he was always a threat coming in off the right with his wand of a left foot, as evidenced by his third and fourth goals. 

Dire-khaby

It was a day to forget for Valencia centre-back Diakhaby. After conceding both penalties during a first half in which he was run ragged by Ilicic, he was unsurprisingly taken out of the firing line at half-time.

What's next?

Valencia return to LaLiga action on Saturday with a local derby against Levante, though once again there will be no supporters in attendance. As for Atalanta, it is unclear when they will next be in action, but they are not due to play again this month.

Liverpool's Champions League defence is in the balance after a 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid in their last-16 first leg – and the Reds' record at Anfield against Spanish sides is not exactly inspiring.

Since 2001-02, Liverpool have played 10 matches against LaLiga opposition at Anfield and won only two of those games.

Of course, the latest such fixture was against Barcelona, when the Red overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to progress.

But at the Wanda Metropolitano in last month's first leg, Atletico showed they are still a force to be reckoned with in terms of their infamous pragmatism and defensive nous.

Ahead of Atletico's visit on Wednesday, we take a look at the past 10 examples of Spanish teams going to Anfield.

Liverpool 1-3 Barcelona, November 2001

Liverpool's poor run at home to Spanish teams began back in the days when the Champions League had two rounds of group stages. They had to come up against eventual semi-finalists Barcelona in the second stage and were comprehensively taken apart at home, with Patrick Kluivert, Fabio Rochemback and Marc Overmars eclipsing Michael Owen's opener. Two of Barca's goals should have been disallowed for offside, but it was a deserved win nonetheless. The Reds reached the knockout phase anyway, but were eliminated by Bayer Leverkusen.

Liverpool 0-1 Valencia, October 2002

After losing 2-0 at Mestalla, Liverpool were left on the brink of elimination when they lost 1-0 at home to Rafael Benitez's Valencia in October 2002. Francisco Rufete's effort in the 34th minute beat the suspect Jerzy Dudek and proved decisive, as Los Che were justified victors. Gerard Houllier's men dropped down into the UEFA Cup but were halted in the last eight by Celtic, who went on to lose 3-2 to Jose Mourinho's Porto in the final.

Liverpool 0-0 Deportivo La Coruna, October 2004

Having been within touching distance of the Champions League final in 2003-04, just a few months later Deportivo La Coruna were a shadow of the team previously referred to as 'Super Depor'. That said, Javier Irureta's side still took a commendable point away from Anfield, amounting to half of their overall haul in Group A – not that it disrupted Liverpool much. They went on to win the trophy, famously battling back to beat Milan in the final in Istanbul.

Liverpool 0-0 Real Betis, November 2005

Similar to Deportivo the previous season, the Betis of 2005-06 was nowhere near as effective as the Verdiblancos side that secured their unlikely Champions League qualification. Liverpool failed to score against them at Anfield, despite a flurry of chances, though the stalemate was enough to book the defending champions' progression to the knockout phase.

Liverpool 0-1 Barcelona, March 2007

Liverpool reached the Champions League final again in 2007, though they had a lucky escape on the way. After winning 2-1 at Camp Nou, Barca came to Anfield needing a win but just fell short of a scoreline that would have taken them through. Eidur Gudjohnsen's effort 15 minutes from time gave Frank Rijkaard's men the lead, but the holders could not add to that and went out on away goals.

Liverpool 1-1 Atletico Madrid, November 2008

Until their thrilling quarter-final elimination by Chelsea, Liverpool did not lose a single Champions League match in 2008-09. A major part of that was their 1-1 draw at home to Atletico in the group phase, as Steven Gerrard converted a last-gasp penalty after he had controversially been awarded the spot-kick following an aerial challenge with Mariano Pernia. It levelled a strike from future Red Maxi Rodriguez.

Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid, March 2009

Against the club he was taught to loathe as a kid, it was fitting that Fernando Torres – a former Atletico captain – was the one to inspire Liverpool past Real Madrid in 2009. Already 1-0 up from the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, Liverpool ran out comfortable 4-0 winners at Anfield, with Torres opening the scoring and producing a generally thrilling individual display to help set up a last-eight clash with Chelsea, who prevailed 7-5 on aggregate.

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid, October 2014

Madrid got their own back in similarly one-sided fashion five years later. Prior to the 2014-15 season, Liverpool had not qualified for any of the past four editions of the Champions League – and it told. In that time, the Reds had fallen well behind the elite, as highlighted by Madrid leaving Anfield with a 3-0 win – Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema getting the goals between them. Brendan Rodgers' men ended up finishing third to Los Blancos and Basel, dropping into the Europa League, which they exited in the round of 32.

Liverpool 2-2 Sevilla, September 2017

Revenge was on the agenda for Liverpool in September 2017. Having lost 3-1 to Sevilla in the Europa League final the previous year, the visiting fans were eager to remind them of that with hand gestures before the match. Liverpool were 2-1 up at half-time, Wissam Ben Yedder's early opener cancelled out by goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, but Joaquin Correa secured a share of the spoils late on. They also played out another thriller in Spain for their second group meeting, Sevilla fighting back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3. Liverpool went on to lose to Madrid in the final.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona, May 2019

A remarkable Liverpool turnaround, or a humiliating Barca collapse? Whichever way you lean, there is no denying last season's semi-final tie was as gripping as it gets. Ernesto Valverde's men had seemingly put one foot into the final with Lionel Messi-inspired 3-0 win at Camp Nou, but the Reds battled back with an epic 4-0 victory. Divock Origi's early effort was added to by a quick-fire Georginio Wijnaldum double early in the second half, wiping out the Blaugrana's lead. Origi then got a second 11 minutes from time, taking the Reds into a second successive final – this time going on to lift the famous trophy.

Tottenham and Valencia each face uphill battles ahead of Tuesday's Champions League last-16 second legs.

Spurs, rocked by injuries in attack, go to RB Leipzig trailing 1-0 from their home leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium three weeks ago.

Valencia's hopes of progression are even more remote after a thumping 4-1 defeat at Atalanta. They will play the home second leg without the backing of supporters, too, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

We take a look at the key Opta statistics ahead of the two fixtures.
 

RB Leipzig v Tottenham

1 - Tottenham have only lost one of their five away Champions League games in Germany (W2 D2), although that defeat came earlier this season at Bayern Munich.

8 - Spurs have been eliminated in eight of their past 10 major European knockout ties when they have lost the first leg. But they overturned a deficit the previous time this happened against Ajax in last season's Champions League semi-finals.

4 - Four of Leipzig's past five Champions League goals have been penalties. Only Barcelona in 2011-12 (five) have ever scored more than four spot-kicks in a single campaign.

6 - Timo Werner is yet to find the net in six home Champions League appearances, attempting 22 shots without success. In away games, he has seven goals from 14 shots. Werner has scored more Champions League goals without netting at home than any other player in the competition's history.

7 - Jose Mourinho has lost more away Champions League games in Germany (seven) than in any other country.

Valencia v Atalanta

4 - Only four of the previous 36 teams to lose the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie by three or more goals have then progressed. However, two have been Spanish sides – Deportivo La Coruna in 2003-04 versus Milan and Barcelona in 2016-17 versus Paris Saint-Germain.

3 - In the first leg, Atalanta became only the third team to score four goals in their first ever Champions League knockout match, after Manchester United (4-0 versus Porto in 1996-97) and opponents Valencia (5-2 versus Lazio in 1999-00).

9 - Valencia are winless in nine Champions League knockout matches (D5 L4) and have not scored three goals in such a game since winning 3-0 against Leeds United in May 2001.

0 - The Serie A side are yet to have an Italian scorer in the Champions League this season. But their 12 goals have been scored by 10 different players of nine different nationalities. Only Arsenal in 2009-10, Manchester United in 2010-11 and Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17 have had 10 different nationalities net in one campaign.

6 - Atalanta scored with six of their first 29 shots on target in the Champions League this season but have since found the net with six of their previous eight, including their four most recent shots on target in their 4-1 win in the first leg.

Daniel Levy is known as a difficult negotiator.

The Tottenham chairman squeezed every penny out of United when the Red Devils turned to Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

United also reportedly pulled out of the running for Luka Modric, who joined Real Madrid in 2012, as they did not want to haggle with Levy.

However, United could be ready to lock horns with Levy over Harry Kane's signature.

 

TOP STORY – WOODWARD READY TO BATTLE LEVY FOR KANE

Manchester United and Ed Woodward are ready to battle for the signing of Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to the Evening Standard.

Kane is reportedly considering his future at Tottenham and the England international striker is believed to be open to a switch to United at the end of the season.

United are yet to permanently replace Romelu Lukaku and Red Devils executive vice-chairman Woodward reportedly wants to lock horns with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could United beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham? Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Bellingham visited United's training ground on Monday and reportedly spoke to former manager Alex Ferguson as the Red Devils ramp up their interest. Bellingham is valued at around £30million.

- David Beckham's Inter Miami want to sign Manchester City star David Silva, reports The Mirror. Silva, out of contract at the end of the season, has been linked to fellow MLS franchise New York City – who are the sister club of Manchester City and part of the City Football Group.

- Tuttosport claims Juventus are targeting Valencia attacker Ferran Torres. The 20-year-old has also been linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona, Real Madrid and Premier League leaders Liverpool.

United are prepared to pay £70m for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, says The Mirror. Grealish has emerged as one of United's prime transfer targets and the Red Devils are ready to test Villa's resolve as the Premier League strugglers face relegation.

Paris Saint-Germain continue to target Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. PSG have identified Koulibaly as Thiago Silva's replacement but Calciomercato says it will be difficult for the Ligue 1 holders to lower Napoli's demands. Koulibaly – also linked to the likes of United, Madrid, Tottenham and Manchester City – reportedly has a €150m termination clause.

- Kicker says Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are considering signing on-loan Inter winger Ivan Perisic at season's end.

Neymar is reportedly becoming Barcelona's top target again ahead of next season.

The Brazil international was heavily linked with a return to the LaLiga giants ahead of this season, but ended up staying at Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Barca are ready to try to land the forward once more.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR OBJECTIVE NUMBER ONE FOR BARCELONA

Neymar is Barcelona's top priority ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to Sport.

The cover of the Spanish sports daily reads: "Neymar objective number one".

It reports FIFA is also allowing Barcelona to negotiate more strongly with PSG than it did last year.

Neymar has scored 16 goals in 20 games in all competitions for PSG this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying with PSG and L'Equipe reports the Ligue 1 giants will not release France star Kylian Mbappe, or any of their players including Neymar, to play at the Olympics.

- Harry Kane may be sidelined with a hamstring injury, but his career at Tottenham remains a talking point. The Telegraph reports the forward will consider his future with Spurs at the end of the season as they face another campaign without silverware.

- Jadon Sancho continues to star for Borussia Dortmund and the 19-year-old is already up to 17 goals in all competitions this season. Bild reports the asking price for the England international has risen to £122million (€140m), with Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea said to be interested in the attacker.

- Real Madrid, PSG and Chelsea have already made contact with the agent of Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to Italian journalist Nicolo Schira, who says they are ready to offer the 21-year-old an annual salary of €8m.

- Appearing set for a Barcelona exit at the end of the season, Ivan Rakitic recently met with Atletico Madrid representatives, according to Marca.

- With plenty of changes seemingly ahead at Camp Nou, Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona are in regular contact with the agency of Ferran Torres, the 20-year-old attacker who has caught the eye at Valencia.

Erling Haaland has taken the world by storm since joining Borussia Dortmund in January.

Already stunning Europe with his exploits for Salzburg, Haaland has scored 12 goals in eight appearances as a Dortmund player.

Now, Real Madrid could be about to come sniffing in their pursuit of goals.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND AN OPTION FOR MADRID

Borussia Dortmund sensation Haaland could be a cheaper alternative for Real Madrid instead of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, writes Marca.

Mbappe has long been linked with a move to Madrid, where Zinedine Zidane is a keen admirer of his fellow Frenchman.

However, 19-year-old Dortmund recruit Haaland – whose €75million release clause is set to kick in next year – has emerged as an option for Madrid, with PSG set to demand a mammoth fee for Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Reports linking Inter star Lautaro Martinez to Barcelona are gathering steam and Calciomercato says the LaLiga champions want to start negotiations by May. Madrid and Manchester United are also reportedly interested.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barca are keen on signing Valencia centre-back Hugo Guillamon, according to Sport. The 20-year-old will be available on a free transfer at season's end.

Bayern Munich are interested in RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano but Kicker claims the Bundesliga champions believe he is too expensive at €60m. Upamecano has been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham, Barca and Madrid.

- Remaining in Munich and Kicker also says Bayern are unconvinced by the €100m price tag of Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, whose admirers include the likes of Liverpool and United.

Albert Celades was once used to the high life with Barcelona and Real Madrid - now he is dealing with the misery caused by an abject week for his Valencia team.

Four days of carnage has left Valencia's Champions League hopes in tatters and their prospects of returning to that competition next season dealt a major blow.

As a player, Celades was a defensive midfielder who began his career at Camp Nou and later traded loyalties by pulling on the white shirt of Madrid, often playing as a foil to David Beckham.

His coaching career has included spells as an assistant with Spain and Madrid, before a first head coaching opportunity presented itself at Valencia last September.

The past week has come as a jolt to the 44-year-old, with a 4-1 thumping by Atalanta in Italy on Wednesday followed by a 3-0 whipping at Real Sociedad on Saturday.

"We are going through the worst moment of the season, but I don't think that the season is lost," Celades said.

His immediate task is to ensure the team's morale does not fall away, with their winless run having stretched to five games.

Although they have slipped to eighth place in LaLiga, Valencia remain within touching distance of the top four.

"We are not having the same performance away from home as at Mestalla," Celades said.

"However, there are still a lot of games left in LaLiga and the return leg of the Champions League tie. Our idea is to continue picking up points, although the numbers are there and we have conceded too many goals that have impeded us from being at the top of the standings. We have to fix this as soon as possible."

Celades feels Valencia were better against Atalanta than the scoreline suggested, even though the Serie A side led by four goals inside an hour and it took a response from Denis Cheryshev to give Los Che any hope for the March 10 second leg at Mestalla.

Speaking after the Sociedad match, Celades was quoted by Valencia's website as saying: "We came into this one off a tough defeat in the Champions League, which was too heavy for what we saw on the pitch.

"However, not long ago we had a great game against Atletico Madrid in which we deserved to win.

"We are struggling to win but, of course, I see myself as being strong enough to turn the situation around."

Manchester City's Champions League ban could have some serious consequences.

While City are planning to appeal UEFA's two-season suspension from European competition after an investigation found the club broke financial fair play regulations, rivals are circling.

City's stars are reportedly attracting interest from far and wide.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE BERNARDO SILVA

LaLiga champions Barcelona are targeting Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, according to the Transfer Window Podcast.

The report comes following City's Champions League suspension handed down to the Premier League giants by UEFA.

City team-mate Raheem Sterling has already been linked to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Madrid are ready to make a move for Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga. The 17-year-old has starred for the Ligue 1 outfit and is reportedly valued at €70million.

Paul Pogba has also been linked to Madrid but Goal claims he could be offered a new contract by Manchester United, who expect the Frenchman to leave at the end of the season. Former club Juventus are also reportedly tracking the midfielder.

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to either Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri amid uncertainty over the future of Thomas Tuchel, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Lille defender Gabriel is being monitored by Arsenal, Everton, PSG and now Leicester City, according to Le10 Sport.

- The Mirror says Arsenal are set to raise transfer funds through the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and potentially Matteo Guendouzi as the Gunners eye Valencia's Carlos Soler and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano.

Josip Ilicic said Atalanta are "no longer a surprise" after putting one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals with a crushing win over Valencia.

Champions League debutants Atalanta continued their fairytale run by routing Valencia 4-1 in the opening leg of the last-16 tie at San Siro in Milan on Wednesday.

Atalanta, who lost their opening three group matches this season, put the Spanish visitors to the sword courtesy of Hans Hateboer's brace and goals from Ilicic and Remo Freuler.

"We prepared this game the same way we always do and had a great first half, allowing them practically nothing. It's a pity we conceded that away goal, but Valencia are a strong team and we forced them to play badly with our football," Ilicic, who scored a stunning goal to make it 2-0 approaching half-time, told Sky Sport Italia.

"We knew their centre-backs didn't push up much, so that's why the coach chose me with Papu Gomez up front. We were very dangerous, especially in the first half, but we can do better.

"Atalanta are no longer a surprise, we've proved so many times that we don't give in. We're doing some really important things here."

Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini added: "We are on the one hand very satisfied, as we'd have happily accepted a scoreline like that.

"Yet we end up feeling regret over conceding that away goal, as we really shouldn't have made that mistake when 4-0 up and it wasn't the only situation like that.

"We need to be more precise when we go to the Mestalla. If we want to get into the Champions League quarter-finals, we have to play like this at the Mestalla too, prove we deserve to be there with a show of strength and win there too.

"We are a team who create many chances, it could perhaps have had more goals for us and them tonight. We created our goals, they sort of received gifts from us on theirs. We got a bit euphoric and lost sight of our concentration at times.

"We'll analyse now what we got wrong and learn from these errors, as we want to prove in the second leg that we deserve to be there.

"We've got to score there too. We will do some defending, but I don't want us to go to Spain and just sit on a three-goal lead, suffering the entire time."

Denis Cheryshev's 66th-minute consolation gave Valencia some hope ahead of the return leg on home soil and Valencia boss Albert Celades said: "This result doesn't really reflect what we saw on the pitch.

"I think the difference was that Atalanta scored practically every chance they had, which is not an easy thing to do. We didn't score when we had the opportunities. Of course, we made mistakes. When you play at this level against a side like Atalanta, you cannot allow them all that space. We did create our opportunities, though, and that is important for the second leg.

"I think we've got a chance of turning it around. The result is pretty clear tonight, but we'll see what happens at the Mestalla. We play well in our own stadium. We concede too many, especially away from home, there's no denying that. It won't be easy to overturn this situation, but we will try."

Atalanta marked their maiden game in the Champions League knockout stages with a resounding 4-1 win over Valencia in the first leg of their last-16 tie at San Siro on Wednesday.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side dominated from the outset against their LaLiga opponents and opened the scoring after 16 minutes, Hans Hateboer claiming his first goal in the competition with a close-range finish.  

Josip Ilicic doubled their advantage shortly before the interval with a fine strike, before Remo Freuler curled home a third from long distance in the 57th minute.

Hateboer then claimed a second five minutes later, and while Denis Cheryshev pulled a goal back for Valencia, the Italian side will be supremely confident of finishing off the job in Spain in three weeks' time.

Atalanta started in blistering fashion and a clean through Mario Pasalic was superbly denied by Jaume Domenech after eight minutes.

There was little the Valencia goalkeeper could do in the 16th minute, however, with Hateboer storming past Jose Gaya to meet Alejandro Gomez's cross and prod his side into a deserved lead from six yards.

That advantage was nearly cancelled out on the half-hour mark when Ferran Torres crashed a powerful effort off Pierluigi Gollini's left-hand post, while Goncalo Guedes fizzed wide from a promising position soon after.

They were punished for those misses three minutes before the interval when Ilicic thundered into the top corner from 18 yards to open his Champions League account. 

Any hopes Valencia had of reining in the hosts were extinguished shortly before the hour mark when Freuler's whipped effort from outside the penalty area flew past the helpless Domenech.

Maxi Gomez somehow failed to score from six yards, before Hateboer sprung the offside trap at the other end to latch onto Pasalic's pass and fire past Domenech, who should have done better.

Cheryshev pulled one back for the visitors in the 66th minute – just two minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench – but it did little to detract from a glorious night for Gasperini's men.

 

What does it mean? Atalanta power past accommodating visitors

Atalanta were utterly ruthless against a Valencia outfit who scarcely knew what had hit them. A place in the last eight looks almost nailed on and they will fancy their chances against any side left in the competition in this form.

If there is a criticism of the Italians, it is that they look vulnerable at the back, as evidenced by the host of chances carved out by Valencia in the closing stages. That will not bother their fans just now, who will be rightly basking in the glow of a truly memorable European night.

Gomez revelling on the big stage

Gomez  is enjoying his first taste of Champions League football at the age of 32. He might not have scored, but he was once again at the heart of Atalanta's effervescent attacking play, regularly leading Valencia's defenders on a merry dance.

Valencia's cause not helped by Domenech

He made a wonderful save early on from Pasalic but it was all downhill from there for the Valencia goalkeeper. He got a weak hand to Ilicic's strike and only he can say what he was trying to do with Hateboer's second goal.

What's next?

Atalanta host Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday, while Valencia visit Real Sociedad in LaLiga a day earlier.

Jose Mourinho is hoping to end a six-year wait to win a Champions League last-16 tie when Tottenham take on RB Leipzig.

The Spurs boss has suffered frustration in Europe's elite club competition since taking Chelsea to the last four back in 2014.

Tottenham are at home for the first leg against Leipzig, a team they have never played before, with Atalanta taking on Valencia in the other game to take place on Wednesday.

Here, we highlight the best Opta stats for the two Champions League fixtures.

 

Tottenham v RB Leipzig

6 - Mourinho last made it past the round of 16 of the Champions League six years ago, leading Chelsea to the semi-finals in 2013-14. It is also nearly 10 years since he last reached the final, with Inter in 2010.

9 - Son Heung-min has scored nine goals in his past 10 Champions League starts. In the knockout stages with Spurs, his record is five goals in seven starts.

20 - The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has seen more goals than any other venue in this season's Champions League (20 goals; 11 for Tottenham, 9 against).

11 - Between them, Timo Werner (6) and Emil Forsberg (5) have scored over half of RB Leipzig's all-time goals in the Champions League (55 per cent, 11 out of 20).

1 - Only one of Spurs' 21 Champions League home games has ended in a draw (0-0 v Milan in March 2011).

Atalanta v Valencia

0 - Atalanta have never played Valencia, or indeed any Spanish team, in a competitive fixture before.

1 - The Italian team are the first Champions League debutants to make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League since Leicester City in 2016-17. The English side were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals by Atletico Madrid.

13 - Valencia are in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2012-13. It has been 13 years since they last made it past the round of 16 (2006-07).

3 - Atalanta are the first team to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League in its current format after losing their opening three group games.

4 - Rodrigo Moreno has been involved in four goals in five Champions League games this season (two goals, two assists). That is more than in his previous 24 matches in the competition, from which he produced two goals and one assist.

Gian Piero Gasperini will not allow Atalanta to become complacent as they prepare to face Valencia in the last 16 of the Champions League, despite selection concerns for the LaLiga side.

Atalanta recovered from three straight defeats at the start of their debut campaign in Europe's elite club competition to sensationally progress through the group stage.

The entertaining Serie A outfit now appear to have a great opportunity to make the quarter-finals after being granted a kinder draw against Valencia.

The first leg takes place at San Siro on Wednesday, and Alessandro Florenzi, Ezequiel Garay, Gabriel and Rodrigo Moreno are among the players missing from the Valencia squad.

Gasperini is not getting carried away but hopes to be able to seize the initiative in the opening encounter.

"It must be the same Atalanta as always," he told a news conference. "We must be free, knowing that just being here is already a great success. Now, we must play our best.

"The game against Roma on Saturday [a 2-1 win] was decisive but then there are another 14 games [in Serie A].

"We have played many important games now over the years, from the Europa League to Shakhtar [Donetsk in the Champions League group stage], where we were through or we were out. We must use this experience.

"We know we are facing a team of enormous quality and must be ready from the beginning. I would be very happy to go to Mestalla in the lead.

"It is fine to be confident, but we will need a really important performance to get through this round."

He added: "Despite the absentees, Valencia will play with 11, just like us. We must be careful talking about this. They won at Ajax and Chelsea and came first in their group."

Valencia coach Albert Celades is confident the players available to him can still pose a threat.

"Unfortunately, we are used to these things [injuries]," he said. "I feel sorry for those who stayed at home, who can't play at San Siro in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"I'm very happy for those who are playing and sorry for those who stayed at home, but we have to get used to this situation. We still have a great team available from the bench.

"We have to play against a very offensive team, with the best attack in Serie A. Their season has been impressive - they have a lot of fun.

"Regardless of injuries, we will manage the team and we try to compete to the maximum."

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