Zapata double saves Atalanta against Ajax in Bergamo

Bergamo (Italy) (AFP) – Dovan Zapata scored a second-half brace as Atalanta came from two goals down to keep Ajax 2-2 in their first Champions League match at home in Bergamo on Tuesday.

All of Atalanta’s European matches last season were held in San Siro, Milan while their grounds were modernized to comply with UEFA regulations.

But the hosts made a slow start upon their return to Joyce Stadium in a match played behind closed doors in northern Italy due to the Coronavirus crisis.

Ajax advanced two goals in the first half thanks to Atalanta’s fatal errors when Dusan Tadic scored a penalty and Lasina Traore benefited from a goalkeeping error.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side won the opening match 4-0 against Danish club Midgeland as Ajax lost 1-0 at home to Liverpool.

Atalanta are second in Group D, two points behind Livbol, who beat Midgeland 2-0, while the first two teams play in Bergamo on November 3rd.

Ajax ranks third with one point.

Josip Ilich squandered opportunities for breakthrough early when he returned to European competition with Atalanta, having missed more than three months of playing due to personal problems.

The Slovenian sent in Zapata, but the Colombian missed the serve before Robin Goossens hit Traore’s high boots, leading the referee to point to the penalty spot.

Tadic did not commit a foul against Marco Sportillo in the Bergamo goal.

It was Sportillo’s mistake that allowed the Dutch team to add a second eight minutes later, as David Neres crossed over, with striker Traore on hand to finish the match.

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After the break, Gasperini’s team moved forward, with Zapata narrowing the lead after nine minutes when he cleverly climbed to nod to head in Papu Gomez’s cross.

The Colombian added the second goal within the hour, as he picked up a cross from Mario Pasalic to break into the region and end it with his third European goal of the season.

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