Qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League was the price for Liverpool, but some legs for the Premier League trip to Brighton on Saturday were clearly a priority for Jürgen Klopp. He rang the doorbell against Atalanta and lost when Liverpool suffered their first home defeat in the competition group stage since losing 3-0 to Real Madrid just over six years ago.
Atalanta, humiliated when the teams last met on home soil, marked the 200. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini’s game with a fully deserved win that strengthens his own prospect of qualifying from the group. Two goals in quick succession in the second half, both scored by captain Alejandro Gómez’s crossing, have cut Liverpool’s winning streak at Anfield this season.
Fittingly, the Argentine No.. 10 from Buenos Aires initiated the proceedings for the late great Diego Maradona after a brief silence. The man in question, Atalanta captain Gómez, was heavily involved in a determined start by a visiting team that wanted to make up for a 5-0 win in Bergamo three weeks ago.
You must also have drawn motivation from the team sheet when it landed before kick-off. Klopp had made five changes to the Liverpool team, which Leicester had surpassed here on Sunday. Mohamed Salah returned after his Covid-19 self-isolation, but Klopp’s selection was clearly geared towards Saturday’s early start in Brighton.
Neco Williams and Rhys Williams, two of three teenagers on Liverpool’s team, along with Curtis Jones, played in defense. Signed that summer, Kostas Tsimikas replaced Andy Robertson on the left and Divock Origi had the rare chance to impress in the center-forward.
As a result, Liverpool’s performance in the first half was not fluid and controllable, although there were no mitigating factors for Klopp. The Liverpool manager berated his players for the first 45 minutes and sprinted down the tunnel as soon as the whistle was ready for some home truths at halftime.
A goal conceded offered Liverpool something to build on, at least in the second half. And the competition desperately needed something. The hosts had a shot on Atalanta goal in the first half. It took 44 minutes for him to arrive and sail off Salah’s right shoe high over Pierluigi Gollini’s crossbar after James Milner, Jones and Tsimikas jointly took a Liverpool free kick into the box.
Salah took the game’s first chance, but with an idiosyncratic pass over his own half that fell straight to Atalanta striker Josip Ilicic. The Slovenian international had room to attack Rhys Williams and injured his left foot, but his attempt went off target.
Robin Gosens was much closer to the opening of the standings for the Italians when he was released from the left of a ball from Cristian Romero’s defense. With no one running into the Liverpool area, Gosens decided to do it alone with a bold, powerful drive towards Alisson’s near post. The Brazilian goalkeeper made sure he wasn’t caught with a late reaction.
Gómez drove three feet from the edge of the area after Neco Williams was expropriated and Ilicic embarrassed himself with a dive to win a penalty after being tickled on the arm by Georginio Wijnaldum. The tall striker screamed in agony for a brush from Wijnaldum’s fingertips. Neither the referee nor VAR were cheated.
Klopp gave his greatly changed team the opportunity to improve in the second half, but 13 minutes later he had seen enough. In the 58. There were four substitutes on the line, but while Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Fabinho and Robertson warmed up on the contact line, Atalanta broke the impasse.
Gómez, the show’s most creative talent, took center stage and whipped over a delightful flank from the left after the visitors had patiently played through midfield. Ilicic, having read his captain’s intentions perfectly, slipped behind the Liverpool defense to transform into volley.
Liverpool’s four submarines arrived but there was no immediate impact. They felt they were still in the game when Atalanta struck again, and from a similar source. Gómez delivered another inviting cross from the left, Hans Hateboer came back over the gate and Gosens came unmarked to beat Alisson with a controlled volley from 10 yards.
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Liverpool F. . C.. . , Atalanta B. . C.. . , UEFA Champions League, Jürgen Klopp, Mohamed Salah, Anfield, Premier League
World news – AU – Liverpool suffer a setback in the Champions League after Atalanta’s quick double
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