Leaving Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic on the bench, Atalanta boss opted to play Marco Sportiello rather than Pierluigi Gollini in a game La Dea needed a win to get through to the next round.
“I absolutely would’ve made the same decisions. Unfortunately, the first goal, the penalty and even the goal in the first leg compromised a qualification that would’ve been tough anyway. When you gift goals like that, it becomes even tougher,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“It’s a pity, we felt that we had the possibility to do better and take the game to Real Madrid. It went down the wrong path, that was partly our own fault, and it became too difficult then.
“These experiences are always fantastic for the players, coach and club, because we are up against the best on the international stage.
“We should still be satisfied, as we eliminated Ajax and got through a group with Liverpool. We hoped that we could’ve done better in both games against Real Madrid.”
On leaving Zapata on bench, Gasp continued: “Duvan had a few fitness problems in recent weeks. My plan was to keep the game open, try to have more chances in the second half and keep options open for extra time too.
“Unfortunately, the first goal and above all the second made it difficult for us to turn it around. Muriel has done very well in that role and I didn’t want to get near the end with no other options to throw on. I had hoped it would’ve been still open by then.
“The regrets are for the way we conceded the goals rather than anything else.”
Asked if technique was the decisive factor today, he said: “When I said we didn’t play the game we hoped, that is what I mean, as we didn’t play as well with our passing, weren’t precise enough and were below par compared to usual.
“Passing is the language of a team, and if you don’t move the ball well, you don’t communicate. We wasted lots of opportunities to create chances and play it better.”
“Undoubtedly, we are facing teams and players who can move the ball much quicker than we are accustomed to facing, which prompts us to make more mistakes.
“Every team and individual player has to improve that in order to be competitive at this level. I remain convinced we could’ve done better tonight, especially at a certain stage of the season.
“It has happened before that we don’t pass the ball cleanly and start to get frustrated. The lack of precision and technical errors are the biggest regrets.”
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