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Gasperini to stay at Atlanta for Champions League debut

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Gasperini to stay at Atlanta for Champions League debut
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Coppa Italia - Quarter Final - Atalanta v Juventus - Stadio Atleti Azzurri, Bergamo, Italy - January 30, 2019 Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini before the match REUTERS/Massimo Pinca   -   Copyright  MASSIMO PINCA(Reuters)
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MILAN (Reuters) – Atalanta have confirmed that Gian Piero Gasperini will stay on as coach next season to lead them into the Champions League for the first time.

The Bergamo-based club, usually found in the middle or lower half of Serie A, have far exceeded expectations in the three years since Gasperini has been in charge, this season finishing third in the table and reaching the Coppa Italia final.

However, after Atalanta guaranteed their Champions League place with a 3-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday, Gasperini hinted that he would only stay if the squad was strengthened.

“With great satisfaction, I can confirm that the relationship between Atalanta and our coach Gian Piero Gasperini continues,” club president Antonio Percassi said in a statement.

Gasperini then said it had always been his intention to stay.

“The club assured me they wanted to keep improving, and that convinced me to stay,” the 61-year-old said.

“To qualify for the Champions League for the first time was a fantastic moment, not only for me but for the players, the club and the entire city, too.”

Gasperini’s own Champions League experience is limited to one match in 2011 when his Inter Milan side lost 1-0 at home to Trabzonspor. Inter fired him after five matches.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)

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