Bergamo (Italy) (AFP) – Duvan 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 stadium was being upgraded to meet UEFA regulations.
But the home team 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 took advantage of 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 Midtgeland 2-0, while the first two teams play in Bergamo on November 3rd.
Ajax ranks third with one point.
Josip Ilicic squandered opportunities for breakthrough early when he returned to European competition with Atalanta, having missed more than three months of play due to personal problems.
The Slovenian sent in the Zapata, but the Colombian wasted 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 side to add a second eight minutes later when David Neres’s cross flopped, striker Traore on hand to finish the match.
After the break, Gasperini’s team surged 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 scored a cross from Mario Pasalic to break into the region and end it with his third European goal of the season.