It was a miserable night for the Bundesliga's relegation / promotion play-off first leg. DPA/PA Images
European Football

Atalanta edge towards Champions League, Roma struggle again and Bundesliga survival bid goes to the wire

There were three big games down for decision in Italy and Germany tonight.

WHILE REAL MADRID reign supreme in Spain at the minute, there was also European football action in Italy and Germany tonight.

Atalanta took another step towards next season’s Champions League after a 2-0 Serie A win over Napoli that extended the gap between them and the chasing pack.

Goals from Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens early in the second half broke Napoli’s resistance at an all-but empty Gewiss Stadium and put Atalanta on 60 points in fourth place, and the final Champions League spot, with nine matches remaining.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, now unbeaten in nine in the league, are 15 points ahead of sixth-place Napoli and 12 in front of Roma, who slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat to lowly Udinese after having to play most of their match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with 10 men.

Napoli sit in the last Europa League spot and are now looking over their shoulders at AC Milan and Hellas Verona after their five-match-winning league run was brought to an end in Bergamo.

Milan are two points behind Gennaro Gattuso’s team after their last-gasp draw with struggling SPAL on Wednesday while Verona’s 3-2 home success over Parma means they are just a further point back.

Roma effectively kissed goodbye their chances of making the Champions League after another dismal display against Udinese following their limp loss at Milan on Sunday.

Faced with financial problems and with fan discontent at the club’s American ownership close to bubbling over, another season outside Europe’s top club competition would be a big blow to the capital club.

Kevin Lasagna’s 12th-minute strike from close range and another tap-in from Ilija Nestorovski 12 minutes from time gave Udinese their first league win since mid-January and moved them up to 14th on 31 points, six above the drop zone.

If anything the away side should have made more of the one-man advantage after Diego Perotti received a straight red card for a clumsy challenge on Rodrigo Becao, wasting a host of chances on the break before Nestorovski sealed the points.

Roma travel to Napoli on Sunday with their qualification for the Europa League far from secure with Milan and Verona also snapping at their heels.

And in Germany, Werder Bremen were held to a 0-0 draw at home to second-division side Heidenheim in the Bundesliga promotion/relegation play-off first as the former German champions fight to stay up.

Bremen captain Niklas Moisander is suspended for the second leg on Monday after being sent off for a second yellow card three minutes from the final whistle for a clumsy sliding tackle.

Heidenheim wasted a golden chance to sneak a winner two minutes into added time when defender Timo Beermann headed agonisingly wide.

Bremen, who won the last of their four German league titles in 2003-04, have spent more seasons than any other team in the Bundesliga.

They were relegated to the second tier for the 1980-81 season, the only time in 57 years they were not in the top-flight.

Heidenheim, based in south-west Germany, are seeking to reach the top division for the first time and are 90 minutes from potentially joining promoted duo Arminia Bielefeld and Stuttgart in the Bundesliga next season.

© – AFP 2020 

European results

  • Atlanta 2-0 Napoli
  • Roma 0-2 Udinese
  • Werder Bremen 0-0 Heidenheim

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