Greek champions Olympiakos have been knocked out of the Europa League this season by Italian Serie A outfit Atalanta who dropped down from the Champions League earlier in the season. Olympiakos ended their Europa League group stage campaign in second place and they were drawn with Atalanta who finished third in their Champions League group. The Italians were in the same Champions League group with Swiss champions Young Boys, Manchester United and Spanish La Liga team Villarreal.
In the first leg between hosts Atalanta and Olympiakos in Bergamo last week Thursday, the Greek champions stunned their hosts when they took the lead at the start of the game. Olympiakos made a fast start thanks to the goal from Chiquinho. The Brazilian player found the back of the net on 16 minutes and he was on the way to being the matchwinner for Olympiakos before Albanian defender Berat Djimsiti struck twice in two minutes just after the hour mark to change the playoff tie in favour of Atalanta. His first goal arrived on 61 minutes before he scored the winning goal on 63 minutes thus ensuring that Atalanta will take a slender lead to Olympiakos in the second leg.
For the second leg in Athens on Thursday, Atalanta produced a more convincing performance than the first leg on home soil as they ran out 3-0 winners to seal their place in the Europa League round of 16 via a 5-1 aggregate win. Atalanta did the most of the damage in the second half especially at the start of the last quarter of the game. Danish fullback Joachim Maehle gave Atalanta the lead five minutes from the break before Ukrainian star Ruslan Malinovskiy added two goals in two minutes. The first of the two goals was scored in the 67th minute, while the second goal came in the 69th minute.
Atalanta will now face German team Bayer Leverkusen in the round of 16 as far as this season’s Europa League campaign is concerned.