Gasperini turns flecks of gold to treasure as Atalanta close on trophy | Nicky Bandini

Club are in the Coppa Italia final, the Europa League semis and battling for Champions League football in a remarkable season

What was the precise moment that Gian Piero Gasperini allowed himself to start believing? Was it at Anfield, watching Mario Pasalic casually side-foot home the goal that put Atalanta 3-0 ahead against Liverpool? Or during the second leg in Bergamo, seeing his team glide through the final 45 minutes of the tie without any truly nervy moments despite Mo Salah’s first-half penalty?

Perhaps it was only after the referee’s whistle had confirmed Atalanta’s place in the semi-final. Not until Sunday did we hear him acknowledge it publicly. “At this moment, the Europa League is the objective we are holding too most tightly,” said Gasperini at the end of a 2-0 Serie A win over Empoli. “We need to stay focused though. Marseille are a strong team.”

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