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Liverpool thrashed by Atalanta to leave Europa League hopes in tatters

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Apr 2024

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Lacklustre Liverpool were stunned 3-0 by Atalanta in a Europa League quarter-final collapse that could prove to be Jurgen Klopp’s last European night at Anfield.

This competition offers the chance to bring the curtain down on the German’s reign with a European trophy on May 22, but their hopes of making the Dublin showpiece are in jeopardy.

Liverpool lacked creativity and coherence in the first leg of a quarter-final that Atalanta are in complete control of heading back to Bergamo thanks to Gianluca Scamacca’s brace and a late Mario Pasalic goal.

It represented the Reds’ first Anfield loss since falling to Real Madrid last February and compounded the Premier League hopefuls’ potentially costly 2-2 draw at bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Harvey Elliott had hit the woodwork before Scamacca’s first-half shot squirmed past Caoimhin Kelleher, who was beaten again by the former West Ham striker after Liverpool had started the second half brightly.

Livid Klopp bellowed and waved his arms as he called on fans to lift the flat Anfield atmosphere, but this was Atalanta’s night and Pasalic wrapped up an unforgettable triumph for the visitors.

The warning signs had been there for Liverpool from the start.

Elliott appeared to be fouled but Atalanta were allowed to continue forward in the third minute, with the ball eventually falling for Pasalic to take a shot from six yards that Kelleher saved with his face.

Liverpool reacted with Darwin Nunez bursting through to test Juan Musso before Alexis Mac Allister lashed over as an open start continued.

Atalanta looked up for the fight, producing some lovely free-flowing moves, but the Reds were finding gaps, with Nunez scooping wide poorly when slipped through.

A lull in play was followed by a stunning Elliott effort from wide on the right of the box, with his curling strike clipping the underside of the bar and hitting the far post.

A similar, albeit more wayward, attempt by Curtis Jones followed before Atalanta silenced Anfield in the 38th minute.

Davide Zappacosta, the marauding former Chelsea defender, sent in a low cross for Scamacca to hit a first-time shot that squirmed past Kelleher in front of the flagless Kop.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s men kept up the pressure before half-time and should have grabbed a second in stoppage time.

Marten de Roon won possession at the halfway line, leading to unmarshalled Teun Koopmeiners being sent through to be blocked by onrushing Kelleher.

There were some groans at the break, from which Liverpool returned with Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson and Dominik Szoboszlai.

The introductions brought an initial improvement and, after Virgil van Dijk headed over from a corner, Salah was blocked by De Roon before then being stopped by Musso.

Nunez lifted over and saw an unorthodox header caught as Liverpool continued to knock at the door, only to be hit by Atalanta again in the 60th minute.

An all too simple pass down the right to Charles De Ketelaere caught Liverpool napping, with Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez leaving Scamacca free in the middle to score with a measured first-time finish.

Atalanta were nearly celebrating a third just minutes later but Koopmeiners could only strike across the face of goal.

Liverpool looked lost as they tried to pull one back, with their celebrations at reducing the deficit in the 79th minute shortlived as Salah strayed offside from Robertson’s pass.

Just four minutes later the mood darkened further as Szoboszlai’s mistake allowed Atalanta to break, with Scamacca slipping in Ederson to see a shot saved and Pasalic follow up in front of the away fans, leaving Liverpool a mountain to climb.

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