Europa League Match: Atalanta Thrash Liverpool At Anfield

Liverpool’s hopes of winning the Europa League were left hanging by a thread after they were thrashed 3-0 at Anfield by Atalanta in the first leg of their quarter-final tie-on Thursday.

Liverpool are hoping to make this season’s Europa League final in Dublin on May 22 their final game before Jurgen Klopp steps down as manager, but they face a monumental task to turn their last-eight tie around after a stunning Atalanta performance.

Liverpool, who started with Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai among the substitutes, saw Harvey Elliott come agonisingly close to opening the scoring with a shot that hit the bar and struck the post on its way back out.

Atalanta then took the lead seven minutes before half-time when Davide Zappacosta’s low ball in from the right was finished off first-time by former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca. The same player made it 2-0 on the hour with a fine finish from Charles De Ketelaere’s assist.

Salah, who had come on at the start of the second half, then had a goal disallowed for offside before Atalanta made it 3-0 with seven minutes left. Caoimhin Kelleher spilled a shot by Ederson and Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic, who once belonged to Chelsea but did not play a first-team game, followed in to score.

The stunning victory for the side who sit sixth in Serie A ended Liverpool’s 33-game unbeaten run at home. Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk said: “It hurts, we didn’t lose here for a long time. They punished us for being sloppy in possession. This will definitely hurt tonight and then from tomorrow we need to switch it back on to get a result.”

Recent history suggests there is still hope for Klopp’s side, as they won 5-0 away to Atalanta in Bergamo in the Champions League group stage in 2020/21, a campaign in which they also lost to the Italian side at Anfield. Thursday’s other game saw Benfica beat Marseille 2-1 in Lisbon in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Goals by Rafa Silva and Angel Di Maria either side of the break put the Portuguese side firmly in command, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal midway through the second half gives Marseille hope for the return next week. Aubameyang is the Europa League’s all-time top scorer and has 10 goals in 10 games in the competition this season.

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