Prime News Ghana

Tottenham knocked out by Leipzig as Ilicic powers Atalanta to Champions League quarters

By Vincent Ashitey
facebook sharing button Share
twitter sharing button Tweet
email sharing button Email
sharethis sharing button Share

Tottenham's hopes of repeating last season's run to the Champions League final came to an end as RB Leipzig eased into the quarter-finals with a 3-0 second-leg win.

Spurs could be considered fortunate to only lose 1-0 in the first leg in London after being outplayed by the Bundesliga title chasers, and Jose Mourinho's men were very much on the back foot again at Red Bull Arena.

A comeback akin to Tottenham's incredible turnaround in the semi-final against Ajax in Amsterdam last term was never on the cards, with captain Hugo Lloris enduring a nightmare evening as Leipzig skipper Marcel Sabitzer scored twice.

Lloris made contact with each of Sabitzer's efforts but failed to keep them out, Leipzig's last-eight place booked in routine fashion as Spurs limped to a 4-0 aggregate defeat sealed by substitute Emil Forsberg's late goal.

Tottenham's task became a more arduous one in the 10th minute as, after Timo Werner's initial shot was blocked, the forward laid the ball off for Sabitzer, whose well-struck effort from the edge of the area proved too hot for Lloris to handle.

Werner had the ball in net nine minutes later but his point-blank strike from Angelino's left-wing cross was correctly ruled out for offside.

However, Leipzig's lead on the night was doubled soon after as Lloris was caught napping by Sabitzer. The France goalkeeper again got a touch, but was unable to prevent Sabitzer sneaking his near-post header from Angelino's delivery over the line.

Peter Gulacsi got down to his right to deny Giovani Lo Celso a goal that would have given Spurs hope, and Lloris had to be similarly alert at the other end after Eric Dier's clearance deflected off Patrik Schick and towards goal.

A low-key second half saw Leipzig reduced largely to efforts from long range, and though Julian Nagelsmann's men were perhaps guilty of taking their foot off the gas, they never looked like being punished for it.

There was one moment of concern for the home side, with Nordi Mukiele struck in the face with the ball, although he was able to sit up before being taken off on a stretcher.

Dele Alli's shot straight at Gulacsi was the best Spurs could muster, summing up Tottenham's lack of goal threat without the injured Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, before Forsberg pounced to add late gloss with his first touch after an Angelino cross was not properly cleared.

Elsewhere, Atalanta eased into the Champions League quarter-finals as Josip Ilicic hit four goals against Valencia, in the first match of the competition to be played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Italians arrived in Spain with a commanding 4-1 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie and quickly added to their advantage inside an eerie Mestalla Stadium.

With the chants of a large gathering of home supporters outside the ground clearly audible, Slovenia forward Ilicic converted a third-minute penalty for the Serie A side after he had been fouled by Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby.

And while Kevin Gameiro capitalised on a defensive mix-up to tap in an equaliser for the hosts, Diakhaby's handball allowed Ilicic to score his second spot-kick of the evening to put the visitors 6-2 up on aggregate.

A second Gameiro goal, this time from a close-range header, levelled the score on the night before Ferran Torres' lobbed effort put the La Liga side in front.

However, Ilicic's rasping left-foot drive from 20 yards restored Atalanta's three-goal aggregate lead as he became the first Slovenian player to score a Champions League hat-trick.

Ilicic's fourth, a left-foot effort into the top left corner, rounded off an 8-4 aggregate win on a fine evening for Gian Piero Gasperini's side, who have now scored 28 goals in their last seven games and become the competition's first debutants to reach the last eight since Leicester City in 2016-17.