The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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De Ketelaere's brace boosts Atalanta's Champions League chances with 2-1 win against Roma

Associated Press Monday, 13 May 2024, 07:13 Last update: about 13 days ago

Charles De Ketelaere netted twice to help Atalanta boost its chances of returning to the Champions League with a 2-1 win over direct rival Roma on Sunday.

De Ketelaere scored the two goals within as many minutes in the first half but Lorenzo Pellegrini set up a tense final quarter of the match by scoring from the spot.

Fifth-place Atalanta moved three points above Roma and has also played a match less. The top five in Serie A qualify for next season’s Champions League and there are two rounds remaining in the Italian league.

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The result also meant Juventus secured a spot in next season's Champions League despite surprisingly being held to a 1-1 draw by Salernitana earlier in the day.

It also confirmed Bologna’s first appearance in the Champions League, and tens of thousands of fans immediately started celebrating in the city center, where players are also expected to arrive having watched Atalanta's match together at their training ground.

But it was more misery for Roma which was eliminated from the Europa League midweek, giving up a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg of their semifinal.

Atalanta will face Leverkusen in the final after beating Marseille.

The two teams were in very different states with Atalanta full of confidence after five wins in six matches and Roma the opposite following just one win in the same period.

Atalanta took the lead in the 18th minute when De Ketelaere raced onto Gianluca Scamacca’s through ball and cut past Roma defender Gianluca Mancini before firing into the far side of the net.

De Ketelaere doubled his tally two minutes later after being set up by Teun Koopmeiners following a one-two with Scamacca.

De Ketelaere had numerous other chances to complete a hat trick — including a shot that came off the post — in a magical performance from the on-loan AC Milan midfielder, while Koopmeiners also hit the post with a free kick shortly before the interval.

Roma got back into the match when Pellegrini drilled a penalty into the bottom left corner after Atalanta defender Marten de Roon had tripped Tammy Abraham.

EMBARRASSING DRAW

Juventus hit the woodwork three times before a late goal from Adrien Rabiot allowed it to snatch a point at home to bottom club Salernitana, which snapped a run of four losses.

Juventus rested a number of players ahead of Wednesday’s Italian Cup final against Atalanta, although Massimiliano Allegri rang the changes after his team was jeered off the field at halftime, making three substitutions.

But by that point Juventus was trailing after Niccolò Pierozzi headed a corner between home goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny and the near post for his first Serie A goal.

Juventus rescued a point in stoppage time when Manuel Locatelli backheeled on a corner for Rabiot to come sliding onto at the far post.

It was a fifth straight match without a win for Juventus.

FAINT HOPES

Lazio kept alive its faint hopes of sneaking into the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Empoli.

Patric fired Lazio in front with the last kick of the first half and Matías Vecino sealed the result a minute from time.

It was Lazio’s fourth win in five league matches and lifted it four points behind Atalanta, which has a match in hand.

RELEGATION FIGHT

There are six teams within five points of each other in the fight to avoid relegation to Serie B.

Sassuolo is three points behind 17th-place Empoli and safety after losing 2-1 at Genoa, while Udinese — which is two points below Empoli — visits Lecce on Monday.

Verona was four points above the drop after losing 2-1 to Torino.

Cagliari and Frosinone are the other two teams at risk.

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