Europa League, Football

Atalanta vs Liverpool: Klopp’s last European dance with Liverpool ends in defeat

Liverpool’s 3-1 aggregate score ousted them from the Europa League, even though they defeated Atalanta 1-0 in Bergamo, with all of the damage done in the first leg.

Knowing they had a steep hill to climb, the Reds came out of the gates swinging and had a great start, especially when Mo Salah scored a penalty kick seven minutes in to give them hope for an incredible comeback.

Then, in the first half, Salah wasted a golden opportunity to cut the lead again. He attempted to loop an effort over Juan Musso from Cody Gakpo’s tantalising through ball, but it went frustratingly wide.

As he had done against Barcelona in 2019, Jurgen Klopp had urged his team to “fail in the most beautiful way.” Although some of their performance in the first half, led by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was back, was impressive, the game ended with just one goal.

With the outcome compounding an already damaging few weeks, Liverpool’s well-documented wastefulness seems to be following them everywhere. Klopp’s displeasure was evident when his team threw away the match at Anfield a week ago. “We clearly set a significant obstacle for ourselves,” he remarked after the game.

Now, within a month, Liverpool has lost to leaders Manchester City in the Premier League title battle, fell out of the FA Cup to rivals Manchester United, and departed Europe to Serie A’s sixth-place team, all of which have destroyed Klopp’s fantasy farewell.

How European hopes were shattered by Atalanta


There’s only the Premier League left. The rumours about a well-known quadruple don’t seem to have been around for very long; they are now only a distant memory.

Liverpool has just six games left to make sure their beloved boss, who is currently two points behind Man City in the table, does not end his beloved nine-year reign with just a Carabao Cup winner’s medal to toast to.

So, perhaps not unexpectedly for a team going into the last-chance saloon, the visitors got going quickly.

The balance felt more Liverpool-like with Alexander-Arnold starting his first game since mid-February due to an injury. The defender was allowed to drift into midfield and link play with deft short passes and long balls.

After Salah converted Luis Diaz’s cut inside after the player sprinted down the left to give Liverpool the lead, his cross struck Matteo Ruggeri’s arm to win the penalty.

Salah has not performed at all well since his own injury return in February. When Gakpo pushed him through, he never looked at ease, and his lob over Musso went harmlessly wide.

Despite Liverpool’s best efforts, Atalanta had the better opportunities in the second half, but Alisson was unaffected by shots from Ederson and Koopmeiners.

Very little changed after a triple substitution that included Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, and Harvey Elliot; it was clear the game was over long before the final whistle blew in Bergamo.

When it did, there were fireworks and scenes of euphoria for a team that had advanced to their first European semi-final since 1988.

Liverpool travels to Fulham on Sunday to resume their Premier League championship defence.

Next up for Jurgen Klopp’s team is a Merseyside derby against Everton on Wednesday night at Goodison Park.

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