UCL Biggest Winners: Angelino & Illic – Tuesday Night

Oluwole Ola

 

Angelino Proving A Point To Pep

Mourinho may not be enjoying life away from Manchester, but Leipzig left-back Angelino is. Dispatched on loan from Manchester City in January, the Brazilian has become a key attacking outlet for Julian Nagelsmann’s team, crafting two goals on the night to show City what they’re missing.

A cursory look at Angelino’s nomadic last few months would apparently reveal a player whose career is in transition. He began the season returning to City after the Manchester club exercised a buyback clause to whisk him away from the Netherlands.

Benjamin Mendy’s erratic form, combined with an injury to Oleksandr Zinchenko, seemed to make City’s starting left-back berth Angelino’s to lose. Yet, despite some solid performances, Pep Guardiola was obviously not convinced, and he let the 23-year-old move to Leipzig until the end of the campaign.

Not only does it look like a misstep from defensively short City, Angelino’s move also resembles a transfer masterstroke by Leipzig. He bossed Spurs on the left with pace, relentless energy, flair and vision.

His most tangible contributions came when he helped tee up two goals for the hosts.

Angelino continued to terrorise Serge Aurier and Tottenham’s right flank after the break. Playing in Emil Forsberg to score Leipzig’s third was a fitting way to end a performance that should convince Guardiola he’ll need Angelino full-time next season.

 

Josep Illic Redemption In His Twilight

Goals weren’t a problem for Josip Ilicic and Atalanta, whose first season at this level continues to deliver thrills. The 32-year-old playmaker found the net four times away to Valencia to seal a remarkable 8-4 aggregate triumph for the Champions League debutant.

It’s hard to think of another marquee talent who has hovered under the radar of top clubs as long as Ilicic. Closer to the end of his career than its prime, the former Palermo and Fiorentina forward has matured into the leading light of an enterprising Atalanta team.

Ilicic underlined his status with a superb, four-goal salvo to see off Los Che’s spirited attempt to come back from a 4-1 deficit after the first leg. Valencia had plenty of cutting edge thanks to striker Kevin Gameiro, but Ilicic’s touch, acceleration and shooting power made the difference.

The quartet of goals took him to five in this tournament and 21 overall across all competitions so far this season. There’s a strong chance Ilicic will pad his tally in a team loaded with match-winners and end product in the final third.

Making a cerebral schemer like Ilicic his conductor-in-chief is further proof of how Gian Piero Gasperini is doing things differently. Most Italian teams are known for their pragmatism, but Gasperini has pieced together a group of free-flowing entertainers no other side will relish being drawn against in the last eight.

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