Liverpool – Atalanta: Anfield was kind to Atalanta, Liverpool suffered its first loss of the UEFA Champions League campaign with a 2-0 loss to the Serie A side on Wednesday.
Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens scored four minutes apart as Gian Piero Gasperini’s men joined Ajax on seven points, two back of Group D leaders Liverpool.
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Liverpool failed to put a single shot on frame in the loss, its first in eight dating back to a 7-2 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.
Midtjylland’s loss to Ajax means that the odd team out of Ajax, Atalanta, and Liverpool will head to the Europa League.
Three things we learned from Liverpool – Atalanta
1. Can’t win ’em all (even at Anfield): The Reds have been oh-so-good for oh-so-long but it’s difficult to mimic desperation, especially when Atalanta was playing for its UCL lives. Liverpool changed five starters from the weekend’s win over Leicester City, leaving Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum, Curtis Jones, James Milner, Joel Matip, and Alisson Becker to make a second-straight start. Liverpool has lost to an Italian club once in each of the last four UCL campaigns.
2. Liverpool attack stalls: The tremendous depth of Liverpool remarkably failed to produce a shot on target at Anfield. The Reds were outshot 8-4 and Atalanta put four of their shots on frame. Atalanta had more tackles, interceptions, and clearances while winning 48 of 88 duels. Salah, Origi, and Mane failed to do it over 61 minutes, then Jota, Firmino, and Mane were stymied again before Klopp threw the kitchen sink at a result by putting Takumi Minamino in for Joel Matip with five minutes to play.
3. No reason to panic: Atalanta was the toughest opponent of the group for Liverpool, and the Reds crushed the Italians in Bergamo. Liverpool has a two-point lead on both Ajax and Atalanta, who play in Holland on the final match day. A point against Ajax at Anfield on Dec. 1 will do the trick.
Man of the Match: Alejandro “Papu” Gomez
Liverpool – Atalanta recap
The visitors from Bergamo had some promising moments early, Papu Gomez dragging a shot wide of the far post in the first dozen minutes.
Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas sprung a nice move into the left of the box, a partial clearance falling for Mohamed Salah to lash over the bar.
Atalanta needed this match more and played that way against the Reds’ second-choice unit, Ilicic racing past Tsimikas to beat Alisson Becker at the back post off a Papu Gomez cross.
Klopp had readied a quadruple sub — those don’t happen a lot — and Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Divock Origi joined Tsimikas in departing for Roberto Firmino, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, and Diogo Jota in the 61st.
Yet it was Atalanta who’d score again, Hans Hateboer heading down a cross and Gosens burying his chance. Robertson couldn’t back up quick enough to beat Hateboer to the cross and Rhys Williams failed to follow Gosens.