RB Leipzig and Atalanta shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday to set up a winner-takes-all decider in Bergamo.

Domenico Tedesco's Bundesliga side made it 10 games unbeaten across all competitions with a 4-1 thumping of Borussia Dortmund on Saturday but found themselves behind at the Red Bull Arena when Luis Muriel struck after 17 minutes.

Gian Piero Gasperini's visitors thought they had escaped lightly when Andre Silva saw his penalty saved by Juan Musso after the break, but Davide Zappacosta miscued into his own goal to restore parity.

Neither team could find a late winner, with Teun Koopmeiners and Dominik Szoboszlai denied by the woodwork, which leaves it all to play for in the return leg next Thursday.

Christopher Nkunku skewed a half-chance wide from Benjamin Henrichs' mishit strike in an otherwise uneventful opening to the contest.

But Muriel sparked the tie into life when he ghosted inside from the left flank before expertly whipping into the top-right corner for his fourth goal in European competition this season, his best tally.

Muriel almost repeated the trick shortly after but his left-footed drive narrowly evaded the far corner, before the woodwork denied Silva and Mario Pasalic at either end.

Peter Gulacsi pushed away a teasing Muriel curler from range after the interval, before Merih Demiral needlessly felled Nkunku inside the area.

Musso denied Silva's spot-kick before an excellent reflex save thwarted Willi Orban on the rebound, but Leipzig equalised moments later when Zappacosta inadvertently turned Angelino's cross into his own net.

Gulacsi then tipped a low Koopmeiners effort onto the post and Szoboszlai headed onto the crossbar, while Lukas Klostermann saw a late strike denied on the line following a goalmouth scramble from Emil Forsberg's corner as neither side could be separated.

Alessandro Bastoni, Davide Calabria and Cristiano Biraghi have all withdrawn from the Italy squad ahead of their crunch World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland. 

Inter defender Bastoni had been struggling for fitness and will not travel to Belfast for Monday's game, with Calabria experiencing a calf problem on Saturday and Biraghi dropping out for personal reasons.

To bolster his defensive options, with veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini having left the camp ahead of Friday's 1-1 draw with Switzerland, Roberto Mancini called up Davide Zappacosta. 

Italy sit top of Group C on goal difference so only need to match Switzerland's result at home to Bulgaria when they take on Northern Ireland in order to clinch top spot. 

A draw would have been enough had Jorginho converted a 90th-minute penalty against Switzerland on Friday, but the Chelsea midfielder missed his third successive spot-kick (including shoot-outs) for the Azzurri. 

Italy have won seven of their 10 matches against Northern Ireland, who have been scoreless in the past six and secured their only victory in a World Cup qualifier back in January 1958.

However, the last meeting between the pair in Northern Ireland was a goalless draw at Windsor Park in October 2010.

Chelsea defender Davide Zappacosta has returned to Atalanta on a permanent deal.

Neither club has confirmed the transfer fee nor the contract length but it is reported the Serie A outfit will pay €10million for the 29-year-old.

Zappacosta started his career with Atalanta, impressing to secure a move to Torino before subsequently signing for Chelsea in 2017, winning the FA Cup and Europa League in his first two seasons.

The wing-back was a standout feature of Antonio Conte's Chelsea, appearing 35 times in 2017-18, before loan spells with Roma and Genoa in the last two campaigns.

During that term under Conte, Zappacosta ranked fourth among Chelsea defenders for chances created (24) while producing 109 recoveries across 2,112 minutes of action.

The Italy defender, who has been capped 13 times, sustained a serious knee injury with Roma but returned encouragingly to form with Genoa, featuring 25 times last term.

Among Genoa defenders, Zappacosta's 11 chances created and 98 duels won placed him second in both aspects – his 119 recoveries also only bettered by two players.

The wing-back could feature as soon as Sunday against Bologna for Atalanta, who defeated Torino 2-1 on the opening day.

Harry Kane made his first appearance for Tottenham this season on Sunday amid speculation about his future.

Kane has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City, having reportedly told Spurs he wanted to leave late last season.

Spurs have postured that they are steadfast in wanting to keep their star forward, though it has been claimed they may be tempted if City up their bid to around £150million.

TOP STORY - CITY TO MAKE FRESH KANE BID THIS WEEK

The Telegraph claims that Manchester City will make another push to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy remains stubborn.

City want to bring in Kane to bolster their attack but have reportedly been unsuccessful with a £100m bid previously.

The report claims City will make a further bid this week for the England captain ahead of the closure of the transfer window at the end of the month.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham have reached out to Juventus to discuss a potential deal for United States international Weston McKennie, with Tanguy Ndombele expected to be involved in a player exchange according to Tuttosport.

- Corriere dello Sport claims that Napoli have contacted Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic about a move to Italy. Barca are reportedly hoping to offload several players to ease their financial situation, with midfielder Pjanic among them.

- Sport1 claims that RB Leipzig remain interested in signing Barcelona youngster Ilaix Moriba and may make a move if Marcel Sabitzer leaves the German club.

- Rennes will permit Eduardo Camavinga to leave for €35m as the closure of the transfer window approaches, reports Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea and Manchester United are among his admirers.

- Romano also reports that Chelsea will sell Davide Zappacosta to Atalanta, with personal terms already agreed.

Burnley will rival Southampton in their interest for Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie, claims the Daily Record. Italian club Sampdoria are also keen on the Scotland international.

N'Golo Kante "becomes an animal that never stops running" when he puts on the Chelsea shirt, team-mate Davide Zappacosta has told Stats Perform.

The France international has won three major honours in five years at Chelsea since joining from Leicester City, where he played his part in a shock Premier League triumph in 2016.

He has also lifted the World Cup with France and will be looking to add a first Champions League title to his collection when Chelsea take on Manchester City in Saturday's final.

Kante is a fitness doubt for the all-English showpiece and would be a huge miss for the Blues should he fail to fully recover from a niggling hamstring complaint.

The 2.48 interceptions Kante averaged per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season trailed only Wilfred Ndidi (2.52) among midfielders to have played at least 20 times.

He also ranked fifth for tackles per 90 with 3.31 – Leicester's Ndidi again led the way with 3.97 – and his importance was further highlighted in the European win over Atletico Madrid.

Kante recovered possession 13 times in the 2-0 last-16 first-leg victory – the most by a Chelsea player in the Champions League since Kante's own 13 versus Barcelona in February 2018. 

The former Leicester man's on-field persona is completely different to how he acts off it, though, where he often comes across as shy and reserved.

"What makes him so appreciated is his natural goodness and being genuine," said Zappacosta, who played in the same side as Kante for two seasons before spells with Roma and Genoa on loan.
 
"This kind of player conquers our hearts and is respected by all of us. Honestly, outside of the pitch, he is professional and calm; on it, he transforms.

"It's like he suffers from a double personality syndrome. Outside the pitch, he is so calm, and then on it, he becomes an animal that never stops running and is tough in duels.

"But he is an exceptional player and a very good chap."

Kante has formed a solid partnership with Jorginho in front of Chelsea's back four under Thomas Tuchel, the latter also topping Chelsea's scoring charts in the Premier League this season with seven goals, each of them penalties.

And Zappacosta is pleased that his compatriot, who is expected to be part of Italy's final Euro 2020 squad, has proved his doubters wrong.

"He has showed he can adapt to different roles in midfield," Zappacosta said. "Whether it's three midfielders or two, it makes no difference.

"If after so many Chelsea managers he is still in the starting line-up, there must be a reason. I think he is a very good player, very intelligent. He deserves to be there."

Zappacosta is set to return to Chelsea ahead of next season after a year on loan with Genoa, where he made 25 Serie A appearances, scoring four goals.

The 28-year-old has been impressed with the work Tuchel has done in west London since taking over from Frank Lampard midway through the campaign.

"I haven't watched so many Chelsea games in the Premier League because I was often playing at the same time," said Zappacosta, who has been linked with a move to Atalanta.

"But I have watched them in the Champions League and I have been impressed by their solidity and absurd intensity, and most of all by their style and ideas. 

"They play really well and I am so happy they managed to get to the final. I guess you can see the great work done by the new manager and his staff. 

"You see they are compact, intense and almost playing by heart. It is a pleasure to watch them play."

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