Serie A's Atalanta advances behind closed doors in Champions League thanks to Josip Iličić's four goals (video)

Yahoo Sports
Atalanta's Josip Iličić celebrates after scoring his fourth goal in an empty Mestalla Stadium in the Champions League. (Photo by UEFA Pool/Getty Images)
Atalanta's Josip Iličić celebrates after scoring his fourth goal in an empty Mestalla Stadium in the Champions League. (Photo by UEFA Pool/Getty Images)

If Atalanta is the minnow left in the Champions League, word hasn’t reached them yet.

Josip Iličić scored all four goals as Atalanta beat Valencia 4-3 and advanced 8-4 on aggregate on Tuesday at an empty Mestalla, with fans barred from attending due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Iličić converted penalties for his first two goals, including one inside of three minutes to bury Valencia even further. The Spanish side lost the first leg 4-1 and had plenty of work to do.

This is Atalanta’s first time in the Champions League, and its lack of money and resources relative to Europe’s giants have bestowed an underdog label on the club.

On Monday, Italy suspended all sporting events, including Serie A, until at least April 3 due to the coronavirus. That didn’t impact international competitions like the Champions League, however. And if Tuesday is any indication, Atalanta could be playing in that for quite awhile longer.

Iličić completed his hat trick in the 71st minute, then asked to be substituted (via Turner Sports):

He stayed in the game and punctuated the night with a fourth. The boom of his finish rang out around the empty stadium:

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