Gian Piero Gasperini’s men came into their third Champions League fixture with the possibility of taking pole position in Group D. However, Jurgen Klopp’s Red army was too strong and deserved the three points on offer.
The match was billed as the meeting of Europe’s two explosive sides. However, it was only one that ended up doing the damage. Liverpool were efficient in front of goal and would be ruing why they could not add to their tally in this 0-5 drubbing. On the flip side, Atalanta returned to the drawing board in search of answers to dealing with the Reds gegenpress.
Liverpool started brilliantly in the first half, and should have troubled the scorers in the second minute. Diogo Jota dismissed the challenges of Atalanta defenders but could not get his shot past Marco Sportiello. The custodian would again come to La Dea’s defense, tipping over a Sadio Mane long drive, before denying Curtis Jones.
At the other end of the pitch, Luis Muriel would give action to Alisson Becker. The Colombian’s first effort was tame, and the Liverpool goalkeeper easily handled it. However, his second from the left boot gave the Brazilian cause of concern, but he managed to stop it on the second attempt.
The visitors controlled the passage of play and were duly rewarded for their superiority in creativity. Trent Alexander-Arnold sent Diogo Jota on goal, who wrestled away from José Luis Palomino and chipped the ball over the stranded Marco Sportiello. Advantage Liverpool.
The Bergamaschi are known to concede but are more famous for outsourcing their rivals. The 16th-minute goal was supposed to open the floodgates. And it did but only for Atalanta to be on the receiving end. Jota added to their woes just after the half-hour mark, the Portuguese getting on the end of a Joe Gomez cross before sending a low shot into the bottom left corner.
Liverpool had a two-goal lead and should have added another a couple of minutes later. But Sadio Mane was again denied by the Atalanta goalkeeper.
Going into the break, Atalanta had left a lot for themselves. Gasperini’s men were second best in all departments and needed to shore up their act. However, their best-laid plans would not come to fruition. Whatever the manager said had no impact as they would concede thrice in the opening 10 minutes.
? #ATALIV team news ?— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 3, 2020
The third goal came from a blitzing counter-attack. Curtis Jones cleared an Atalanta corner, which allowed Mohamed Salah to run at the defense. The Egyptian King took his chance from outside the box, but both Hans Hateboer and Marco Sportiello had no chance of stopping it.
The fourth one would come in similar circumstances. Atalanta were on the offensive and would be caught napping at the back. Salah was the architect for this one, releasing Sadio Mane on goal. The Senegalese forward chipped the goalkeeper to get on the scoreboard belatedly.
All three of Liverpool attackers had been effective in front of the goal, but the rout was not complete. After profiting from Salah’s creativity, Mane would showcase his class as Jota completed his hat-trick. The import from Wolves received the ball on the left flank, easily evaded the advancing Sportiello, and sent the ball into an empty net for his third of the night.
Three goals in ten minutes, and the manner was the same. Atalanta were broken going forward in search of that elusive goal but could not contain Liverpool’s press. By the time they took the weight off the pedal, they were five goals down. They had been picked apart by their own need for adventure and only had themselves to blame.
Atalanta knew the dangers and persisted with their plans. The scoreline would have gotten worse had Salah’s fierce effort from outside the box not been saved by Sportiello. Or had the prolific Egyptian not sent his shot wide on another counter-attack. Or had Mane chosen any other spot than the goalkeeper to head to from an indirect free-kick.
Meanwhile, La Dea’s plans seemed to have belatedly borne fruit as Duvan Zapata finally sprang to life. The Atalanta talisman forayed further and sent the Red defense in his wake, but his weak shot was efficiently dealt with by Alisson. Atalanta would not let up, and the Colombian would hit the back of the net, but it would be ruled for offside.
The thumping defeat coupled with Ajax claiming a hard-fought away win in Denmark threw a spanner in Gasperini’s works. They slumped out of the two progressing berths, with the Dutch giants taking their slot. However, the result would not trouble the Bergamaschi with last season’s successes on their mind. They managed to sneak in at the culmination of the final round of fixtures and still have a chance.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp would be pleased with his side’s performance. Liverpool are at the top of the Group D points table and can give their fringe players chances in at least two games. Moreover, the Kop would be pleased to see new signing Jota hit the ground running and giving them a prolific backup to Roberto Firmino.
November 3, 2020 – Champions League 2020-21 Group Stage
SCORERS: 16′ Diogo Jota, 32′ Diogo Jota, 46′ Salah, 48′ Mane, 54′ Diogo Jota
|ATALANTA (3-4-1-2): Sportiello; Palomino, Djimsiti, Toloi; Hateboer (81′ Depaoli), Freuler, Pasalic (63′ Malinovskyi), Mojica (81′ Ruggeri); A.Gomez (81′ Lammers); Muriel (53′ Pessina), Zapata (Gollini, Rossi, Ilicic, Miranchuk, Romero, Scalvini, Traore) Coach: Gasperini
|LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (82′ N. Williams), J. Gomez, R. Williams, Robertson (66′ Keita); Henderson (66′ Milner), Wijnaldum (82′ Tsimikas), Jones; Salah, Diogo Jota (65′ Roberto Firmino), Mane (Cain, Kelleher, Matip, Minamino, Origi, Adrian, Shaqiri) Coach: Klopp
REFEREE: Hategan (Romania)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Wijnaldum, Jones (L); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 2′