Atalanta join Liverpool in UCL round of 16

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Atalanta join Liverpool in UCL round of 16

Atalanta beat Ajax 1-0 at the Johan Cruyff Arena to claim second place in Group D and progress to the Champions League round of 16 thanks to a second-half strike from Luis Muriel. The Italian side entered the game with the knowledge that anything other than a loss would see them qualify for the round of 16, while Ajax needed all three points to avoid finishing third entering the Europa league. Neither side could break the deadlock in the first half. Ajax striker Brian Brobbey came close on the stroke of half-time but could not guide his header past goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini. Ajax forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had a penalty appeal turned down in the 68th minute after a clumsy challenge inside the box from defender Cristian Romero, but both the referee and VAR agreed it was not a penalty. The Eredivise league leaders’ task was only made harder after midfielder Ryan Gravenberch received a second yellow card in the 78th minute after his hand connected with the face of Alejandro Gomez. In the 85th minute Colombia international Muriel ended the stalemate after rounding goalkeeper Andre Onana to net late on for the visitors. Manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have qualified for the knockout stage for the second consecutive season.