Gasperini: 'Atalanta earned our chance'

Gian Piero Gasperini assures Atalanta “earned this and have every right to play our cards” in both the Coppa Italia Final and rush for Champions League spots.

The Orobici beat Fiorentina 2-1 this evening, 5-4 on aggregate, to set up the Final against Lazio on May 15 in Rome.

“It’s a wonderful evening for us, as we achieve a fantastic target like the Final. It’ll be important to win, but reaching the Final is what we wanted and we fought hard to get here against a very strong Fiorentina side. The lads earned this,” the Coach told Rai Sport.

Josip Ilicic converted the penalty to cancel out a Luis Muriel opener, but then limped off with that recurring knee problem.

“We hope to get him back soon, as we can’t lose anyone. Papu Gomez, Ilicic and Duvan Zapata are fundamental up there.

“Some of our players felt the strain of Monday’s game against Napoli, which took a lot out of us, but that just means they deserve even more praise for fighting through the pain to win tonight.

“The first goal found us a little spread out in defence, but we gained courage – albeit running a few risks at the back with Fiorentina’s very impressive forwards. We attacked in our usual way, were never prepared to rest on our laurels and instead always pushed for the victory.”

Atalanta are level on points with fourth-placed Milan, albeit behind due to an inferior head-to-head record, and one point in front of Roma.

“Now we prepare for Udinese, as we are challenging for something extraordinary. The city of Bergamo is buzzing, but we have to bring the results home at the end of it all and reaching Europe for the third year running would be a great achievement.

“This was the most delicate test for us, because it was so close to the Napoli trip. Before the Coppa Italia Final, we’ve got time to prepare and our focus will all be on Serie A. With our position and the fixture list, we have every right to play our cards and take our chances.”

Pierluigi Gollini was again decisive in goal, having pushed Etrit Berisha on to the bench as the season wore on.

“I had thought of starting with Gollini this season, but he hadn’t played consistently in Serie A before now, so I preferred to break him in slowly and use Berisha, who had more experience. He has been playing regularly now and fundamental in every game.”

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