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Atalanta 0-2 RB Leipzig: Christopher Nkunku scores twice as German side progress

Highly-rated Christopher Nkunku’s brace sends RB Leipzig through to the Europa League semi-finals after the referee REFUSED to award Atalanta a penalty in controversial second leg

  • Christopher Nkunku scored in each half as RB Leipzig beat Atalanta 2-0
  • RB Leipzig progress to the semi-finals with a 3-1 victory on aggregate
  • Second leg included controversial decision not to award Atalanta a penalty
  • Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz checked the pitchside monitor but kept his original decision

Christopher Nkunku underlined his status as one of the hottest prospects in European football as he fired RB Leipzig into the semi-finals of the Europa League with both goals in a 2-0 victory over Atalanta.

Nkunku surged forward to steer home Konrad Laimer’s cross 18 minutes into the second leg and converted a second-half penalty to send the Bundesliga side into the last four.

Leipzig survived a scare not long after the restart when referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz controversially decided not to award Atalanta a spot-kick for handball.

Christopher Nkunku scored twice - the second from a penalty - to send RB Leipzig through

Christopher Nkunku scored twice – the second from a penalty – to send RB Leipzig through

The French forward underlined his status as one of the hottest prospects in Europe

The French forward underlined his status as one of the hottest prospects in Europe

In a rare occurrence since the introduction of VAR, Lahoz was told to check the pitchside monitor after the ball struck Dani Olmo on the arm from Ruslan Malinovskyi’s free-kick – but kept his original decision. 

Following their draw in the first leg in Germany, Leipzig dominated in Bergamo, deservedly taking the lead when Nkunku slotted home from close range.

Atalanta just could not get going, with Leipzig having chances to make the result more comfortable before Nkunku sealed the victory by winning and converting a late penalty to take his tally to 30 for the season in all competitions.

The visitors, who reached the Champions League semi-finals two seasons ago, booked a Europa League last-four meeting with Rangers.

Poor domestic form has seen Atalanta, who have been a regular fixture in the Champions League in recent seasons, drop to eighth in the Serie A standings.

Nkunku surged forward to steer home Konrad Laimer's cross 18 minutes into the second leg

Nkunku surged forward to steer home Konrad Laimer’s cross 18 minutes into the second leg

Putting their recent struggles to one side, and having got a more than commendable draw from the first leg in Germany, they will have fancied their chances to get the job done on Thursday.

But other than full-back Davide Zappacosta’s early effort, they did not really test keeper Peter Gulacsi, with the majority of the goalmouth action taking place down the other end.

The strike that edged Leipzig ahead in the tie came from a swift counter, with Konrad Laimer racing down the left before cutting the ball back for Nkunku, who was never going to miss given the season he is having.

<a href=Atalanta struggled to get going throughout the match and fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Atalanta struggled to get going throughout the match and fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat

The 24-year-old could only find the side netting when through on goal after the interval, though, with Laimer unable to convert after an error from goalkeeper Juan Musso.

As Leipzig pressed forward in the search for an equaliser, Yussuf Poulsen threaded Nkunku through and he was brought down by Musso before hammering home the spot kick in the 87th.

That wrapped up a deserved win for Leipzig who continue to go from strength to strength under Domenico Tedesco, with seven away wins in a row and 13 games unbeaten in all competitions.

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