The Dea, Italian word for goddess, is back: this could be the right title of this special night. Atalanta, taking their club's name from a Greek mythological divinity, has played a match in a continental competition after 26 years, 6 months and 4 days, since that 20th March 1991 when they lost 2-0 against Inter in the second leg of the UEFA Cup quarter finals. And it felt a bit strange to play their debut match after more than a quarter of a century not in their hometown Bergamo, but in Reggio Emilia.
And from Reggio Emilia, the Italian football gives a shout telling it's still alive, after the terrible nights of Champions League when Juventus, Napoli and Roma collected just one point in three match, thanking the 0-0 of the Giallorossi against Athletic Madrid.
Gasperini chooses a line-up with Berisha between the posts, a 3 line defence with Toloi, Palomino and Masiello; Hateboer and Castagne on the wings, Cristante, De Roon and Freuler in the middle and a couple of strikers made up by Petagna and El Papu Gomez. But Gasperini has teached Atalanta to change their attitude during the match: so, often their tactical line-up turns into a 4-3-1-2 with Hateboer as right back and Bryan Cristante behind the two strikers.
Ronald Koeman lines up his Everton with a 4-2-3-1, putting in the waste the experimentation of the 3 line defense. Stekelenburg was the goalkeeper, who knows very well Italian football for having played with AS Roma; the four defenders were made up of Holgate, Jagielka, Keane, Baines. Schneiderlin and Besic stood in front of them in the midfield, with a trio made up by Rooney, Vlasic and Sigurdsson behind Calvert-Lewin.
Atalanta's supporters do their best during all the match to support the team and to not making them feel away from home, but trying to reproduce as better as possible the atmosphere of the Azzurri d'Italia Stadium. And the the Atalanta players reply to their supporters in the only way they know: starting the match with an attacking attitude and creating immediately many problems to the Everton defence.
After having been scared by a magic trick of Wayne Rooney, that finished shortly wider at the right of Berisha, at the 27' Andrea Masiello forces the Dutch goalkeeper to make a miraculous save, then he put the ball in the net on the subsequent corner. 1-0 for Atalanta, whose last goal in a European cup was scored by Eligio Nicolini against Koln in 1990.
Another big chance by Papu Gomez at the 36', but Stekelenburg saved on his left. Four minutes later, Alejandro Gomez himself received a nice lob by Petagna and, from the edge of the box, shot a fantastic kick that ended up behind the shoulders of Stekelenburg: 2-0 for Atalanta, just in front of the hottest Atalanta supporters! Just the time to take a breath and Bryan Cristante scores the third goal for the Nerazzurri, 3-0 after 44 minutes. Incredible, Everton are totally powerless compared to a brilliant and sparkling Atalanta.
The last motif of the match doesn't change even in the second half, that starts with a shot with the left foot by Petagna from outside the box that warms up the Stek's gloves, touching into corner. The side from Bergamo could steamroll, but Freuler at the 55' hits the post with a longside shot after a pass by the unceasing Hateboer.
At the 65 minute mark, a rain of disrespectful hoots underline the exit from the pitch, with Wayne Rooney, being replaced by the top new arrival Davy Klaassen: this is the move by Ronald Koeman with the intention of overturning the inertia of the match. Talking about the Dutch midfielder, he seems to be unhappy of how Koeman is using him in dribs and drabs, having played only 135 minutes in this season and the eyes of some important clubs in Italy are turning their attentions on him. In particular, Roma, Milan, Lazio and Napoli are monitoring the situation.
Three goals and three points for Atalanta, with Everton giving the impression of having been remained at Liverpool or on the plane. Let's keep our eyes on this young Atalanta, that playbrilliant football and have the vice of surprising. That's all folks, see you at the next episode: let's sing with Atalanta's supporters rising their scarves to the sky.