Football

UEFA Champions League:Atalanta Beats Liverpool At Anfield

The Reds’ failure to secure their place in the Champions League last 16 with two games to go means less time off for their already depleted squad

Liverpool delivered a sloppy, messy and lethargic performance against a team they hammered 5-0 three weeks earlier.

Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens scored twice inside four second-half minutes to seal a deserved triumph for the boys from Bergamo.(FT Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta)

Although the Italians will have been surprised by such a dismal display by their hosts.

When you look at their impressive results since the 7-2 battering at Aston Villa — considering the bad luck Liverpool have suffered with injuries — they should be allowed the odd poor night.

Klopp’s patched up team set a record of 64 matches unbeaten at home in the top-flight with a 3-0 win over Leicester, their best performance of the season.

But their second worst display of the campaign – although not close to the shambles at Villa – means they still have a bit of work to do in the group.
Losing one game is hardly a disaster and Liverpool will still go through.

Two years ago, Klopp’s team lost all three of their away games in the group stages yet the season did not end up too badly.

Yet they will still have to do better next week when  Ajax come to Anfield and it would still be a shock if they are anywhere near as bad as last night, which proved to be their second home loss in three Champions League matches.

When you consider what has been thrown at Klopp, defying this run of seemingly never-ending injuries could only go on so long.

Ahead of the game, Klopp had just 16 outfield players at training and he was right to make the changes as this was also their second match in a manic 12-game spell over 41 days.

There were starts for Nico and Rhys Williams, summer signing Konstantinos Tsimikas, Divock Origi and Mohamed Salah, who had been self isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.

None of the players covered themselves in glory but the whole team played badly.

After a poor first half, with just one notable attempt – from Atalanta – both managers, Jurgen Klopp and Gian Piero Gasperini, looked slightly grumpy as they headed down the tunnel at the break.

And with little changing in the second half, Klopp was about to make his mass changes with the quartet of Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Diogo Jota and Bobby Firmino all standing on the touchline to be introduced.

Yet in a well-worked goal, Ilicic found too much space behind Konstantinos Tsimikas and he stuck out a leg to turn in a cross from Alejandro Gomez.

Yet no sooner had Klopp made his changes then Liverpool conceded agai, with Gosens smashing a volley past Alisson after Hans Hateboer beat Andy Robertson to a header.

Once again, the home defence was all over the place.

For Gosens, it was a Merseyside double as he also scored in Atalanta’s 5-2 win atEverton in the Europa League three years ago this week.

Despite finishing fourth last season and having reached the Champions League quarter-finals, Atalanta have not been as effective this – as they proved in their 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool in Bergamo at the start of the month.

It is worth remembering Atalanta’s wage bill last season was just £30million – the 13th highest in Serie A – and about £6m less than Nottingham Forest in the Championship.

But they still had too much for Klopp, who will now be hoping for a much better performance against Brighton on Saturday lunchtime, even though theGerman has the hump with the kick-off time.

But if there is a repeat performance – however unlikely – then Klopp could have a major problem.

A defeat would leave them vulnerable, needing something from their final group match, as they have in each of the last three campaigns.

It means Klopp, his resources already stretched by injury, will have less room to comfortably rotate his squad during the busiest month of the campaign.

Liverpool play 10 times between November 28 and January 2, and as it stands none of those games will be free hits for the Premier League champions.

This was the heaviest home defeat Klopp has suffered as Reds boss – the last time they lost by more than one goal at Anfield came under Brendan Rodgers, a 3-0 reverse at the hands of West Ham in August 2015.

Klopp will hope for better news from the treatment room this week, with Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepping up their rehab. Maybe, too, we will see Thiago Alcantara on the field again soon.

Wednesday 25th November ,Champions League Results

  • FT: Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0  Shakhtar  Donetsk
  • FT: Olympiacos  FC 0 -1Manchester City
  • FT: Bayern Munich 3-1 Red Bull Salzburg
  • FT: Atletico Madrid 0-0 Lokomotiv Moscow
  • FT: Inter Milan 0-2 Real Madrid
  • FT:  Marseille  0-2  Porto
  • FT: Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta
  • FT: Ajax 3-1 Midtjylland

 

UEFA Champions League Matchday 4 concluded on Wednesday with eight matches across Europe. The end of the matchday brought wins for Real Madrid, Porto, Atalanta, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach. The victories for Bayern Munich and Manchester City put them through to the round of 16.

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