Gian Piero Gasperini revealed his deep disappointment after his Atalanta side had what would have been a glorious Champions League victory against Paris Saint-Germain snatched from them in the final seconds on Wednesday.
The Serie A side were leading the quarter-final 1-0 heading into the final minute in Lisbon but were dumped out of the competition in brutal fashion thanks to last gasp goals from Marquinhos and Eric Choupo-Moting.
“I must say that there is great regret, we came very close, it was very close. It looked as it we could do it, pull off a great achievement,” Gasperini said to Sky Sport.
“We can take satisfaction from the experience, our Champions League growth. It looked as if we had done it.”
Wednesday’s defeat was the cruellest way to end what has nonetheless been another remarkable season for the side from Bergamo, one of the worst-hit cities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Traditionally an also-ran, Atalanta finished third in Serie A for the second season in a row and enchanted fans across Europe with flamboyant football that led to them scoring 98 times in the Italian top flight.
However once Kylian Mbappe was introduced in the second half PSG began to turn the screw and Atalanta eventually gave way.
“Mbappe’s coming into the game, combined with the presence of Neymar, changed things for PSG,” Gasperini told reporters in the post-match press conference.
“His entry gave an energy to PSG who were losing the match, it was fundamental because of what he brought to the game.
“The equaliser, above all, leaves us with some bitterness. But PSG has a good chance of reaching the final.”