Head coach Gerardo Seoane made five changes following the 1-0 derby defeat against FC Köln: Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong are both injured, while Odilon Kossounou, Paulinho and Lucas Alario started on the bench. The new players in the starting line-up were Edmond Tapsoba, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Charles Aránguiz, Mitchel Bakker and Amine Adli. Seoane started with a back three and two strikers up front.
Before kick-off, the Werkself players first made a statement aimed at their injured teammates Florian Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong: Lukas Hradecky and Co. warmed up in white tops bearing the numbers and names of the duo..
The first shot on goal after six minutes came from Atalanta's Luis Muriel, the scorer of two goals in the first leg. However, the effort from 20 yards out lacked accuracy. There was significantly greater threat at the other end when Bakker put Moussa Diaby through on goal – but his shot from twelve yards out was aimed straight at the keeper (8'). Almost at the same time as the Diaby chance, the Atalanta captain Rafael Toloi suffered an injury off the ball and had to be substituted after just ten minutes.
The game developed into an evenly balanced affair. Diaby tried to finish twice but an Atalanta leg was in the way both times (22', 23'). The Bayer 04 keeper Hradecky was then tested by Atalanta's Ruslan Malinovskyi (33'). Two minutes later, Fosu-Mensah blocked an effort from Muriel that was headed towards the far corner. There was end-to-end action in the first half but the two sides went in the break with the score at 0-0.
And Diaby had a massive chance early in the second half. The France international was through one-on-one with the keeper Juan Musso who made the save with his right leg (48'). The Werkself were clearly more offensively minded and determined after the restart and there was a great opportunity three minutes later from a Kerem Demirbay corner. Seoane brought on three new players after the hour mark with the recovered Andrich and Bellarabi making their comebacks.
It was Andrich who forced Musso to make the save in the Atalanta goal (70'). The Black and Reds were slowly running out of time. Another attacker was brought on in the shape of Alario with ten minutes to play – Seoane was throwing everything into attack. However, the Werkself were unable to find the goal needed to take the match into extra time even in the five minutes of time added on. It was different for the opposition: Substitute Jeremy Boga rounded off a counter-attack from Atalanta to make it 1-0 (90+ 1').
That means Bayer 04 end the European campaign in the Round of 16 in the Europa League.
The Werkself have one game left in March – and that is another worth watching. Sunday 20 March brings a Bundesliga away game at a revitalised VfL Wolfsburg. The kick-off at the Volkswagen Arena is at 17.30 CET. Then comes the international break followed by the game against Hertha Berlin at the BayArena on 2 April.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie – Fosu-Mensah (Bellarabi 61'), Aránguiz (Alario 81'), Palacios (Andrich 61'), Bakker – Demirbay (Azmoun 61'), Diaby, Adli
Atalanta: Musso – Toloi (Djimsiti 10'), Demiral, Palomino – Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler, Zappacosta (Pezzella 79') – Koopmeiners – Malinovskyi (Boga 65'), Muriel (Pessina 79')
Goals: 0-1 Boga (90+1’)
Booked: Fosu-Mensah, Andrich, Diaby
Referee: Letexier (France)
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