Zappacosta gives Red Bulls a Silva lining
RB Leipzig and Atalanta shared the spoils in an intriguing UEFA Europa League (UEL) quarter-final first leg, following a 1-1 draw in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs at the Red Bull Arena.
Luis Muriel broke the deadlock in emphatic fashion for Atalanta in the 17th minute, as he cut inside from the left flank and rifled an unstoppable right-footed strike past Péter Gulácsi in the Leipzig goal. It was the Colombian’s fourth goal in European competition this season – his best total in a single campaign. Muriel almost added to that tally moments later with another strike that flew inches past the target.
The hosts were shaken, but nearly restored parity when André Silva’s strike cannoned off the woodwork with Juan Musso standing motionless between the sticks. Atalanta were largely comfortable though, and nearly scored a second goal out of nothing through Mario Pašalić, who was allowed to race to the byline and saw his resulting effort hit the post.
‘Die Roten Bullen’ were given a way back into the contest after Christopher Nkunku was brought down by Merih Demiral and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot – a decision which stood following a VAR review. But Silva squandered the chance to level the scores as Russo saved his penalty, before the Argentine made an even better stop to keep out Willi Orbán’s header on the follow-up. However, the hosts did level the scores seconds later courtesy of Davide Zappacosta’s own goal, as the former Chelsea defender diverted Angeliño’s cross into his own net two minutes shy of the hour mark.
Gian Piero Gasperini was looking for an immediate response from his side, and Leipzig were thanking their lucky stars after a Teun Koopmeiners effort rebounded off the post and Gulácsi’s head before going behind. ‘La Dea’ were pushing for a second, and Demiral headed narrowly wide from an enticing Koopmeiners cross.
As the game reached its conclusion, Dominik Szoboszlai nearly got a second goal for Domenico Tedesco’s side, only to see his header crash off the bar from another brilliant Angeliño delivery. The match eventually ended all square, which sets everything up nicely for the second leg at the Stadio di Bergamo next Thursday.