Valencia’s Champions League exit has been confirmed thanks to a Josip Ilicic-inspired 4-3 last 16 loss at home to Serie A side Atalanta.
The Italians headed into the game with a 4-1 first leg lead following a convincing performance at the San Siro a fortnight ago.
However, despite holding a commanding aggregate lead, it was far from straightforward for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side at an empty Estadio Mestalla.
Slovenian international Ilicic put the visitors in front after just three minutes, netteing a penalty after being hauled down by Mouctar Diakhaby.
However, Valencia reacted quickly as Kevin Gameiro clipped home Rodrigo Moreno’s through ball on 21 minutes, to level things up on the night.
Kevin Gameiro scored to pull Valencia level on the night…
And you could hear the Valencia fans that gathered outside the stadium celebrating during the replays 🤔 pic.twitter.com/2EZIvO9z8J
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 10, 2020
But the game continued to see saw just before the break, as Ilicic netted his second penalty on 44 minutes, after Diakhaby’s handball.
Albert Celades’ side came back into it again after the break, as Gameiro bulleted home a header from Ferran Torres’ cross on 51 minutes, before the Spanish international got himself on the score sheet on 67 minutes.
However, despite Valencia’s best efforts to mount an incredible comeback, Ilicic was to end the game with a brilliant flourish.
The former Fiorentina man completed his hat trick on 71 minutes, sweeping home Alejandro Gomez’s cross.
#VCFAtalanta | 3-3 | 71'
⚽️ GOOOOOOOOOL JOSIIIIIIP ILIČIIIIIIIIIĆ!!!!!
— Atalanta B.C. (@Atalanta_BC) March 10, 2020
And he completed an outrageous individual performance with a fourth goal with eight minutes to go, curling home from 15 yards.
Josip Iličić has become the 4th player to score at least 4 goals in a knockout game in the #ChampionsLeague history after Lionel Messi (2009-10 & 2011-12), Mario Gomez (2011-12) & Robert Lewandowski (2012-13). 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥#Galonlinebetting pic.twitter.com/XymXs5pCSL
— juliø (@baketerana) March 10, 2020
Video courtesy of BeIn Sports