Atalanta grateful to give Champions League joy to coronavirus-hit Bergamo

Photo by UEFA Pool/Getty Images

Atalanta is dedicating its UEFA Champions League advancement to those suffering from the coronavirus scare back home in Italy.

Josip Ilicic scored four times Tuesday as La Dea outlasted Valencia 4-3 in Spain and 8-4 on aggregate to clinch its first berth in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Club vice president Luca Percassi has been enraptured with the club’s success, which has escalated along with COVID-19 fears back home.

From Football-Italia:

“We received so many messages from all over Bergamo and Italy, not just the football world. This is a difficult time for the city, the region and the country, so we are glad to have given people two hours of entertainment and spectacle.

“There are no secrets to our success, we simply dedicate so much passion, hard work and determination into this club, because the city deserves it. We wanted to thank the city and show them what can be achieved in this difficult moment.”

Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini said the club was inspired by the support of those back home.

Bergamo isn’t even a Top-30 city in Italy by population, but 1,245 people — about 10 percent of its populace — have been diagnosed with coronavirus. This Sky report details how terrible it’s been in Bergamo.

“We know so many people were watching us from Bergamo and received many messages, including the director of the hospital, so we are glad that we gave them a moment of joy,” Gasperini said.

Atalanta has a hold on fourth place in Serie A in a bid to return to the Champions League, three points more than Roma with a match-in-hand.