Liverpool made light work of a tough test in the Champions League, as Diogo Jota scored a hat-trick on the way to a 5-0 victory away to Atalanta on Tuesday night.
Atalanta 0-5 Liverpool
Champions League Group Stage (3), Stadio di Bergamo
November 3, 2020
Jota 16′ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)
Jota 33′ (assist – Gomez)
Salah 47′ (assist – Jones)
Mane 49′ (assist – Salah)
Jota 54′ (assist – Mane)
Much of the talk in the buildup to Liverpool’s trip to Bergamo was the stuttering form of Roberto Firmino, and whether tactical or physical, Jurgen Klopp opted to leave the Brazilian out in midweek.
The result was a fluid forward line as Jota joined Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in attack, and the new signing furthered his case for a first-choice role with another emphatic display up top.
Jordan Henderson, stepping into the No. 6 for the night, was vocal throughout a first half that resembled close to a training exercise for the Reds, as they dominated possession with 62.2 percent of the ball and crafted chances at will.
Both Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones went close, while at the other end Luis Muriel tested Alisson‘s concentration with a weak effort, but the deadlock was broken, as expected, by Jota, latching onto Trent Alexander-Arnold through ball and lifting a finish over Marco Sportiello.
Everything the No. 20 tries at present seems to be coming off, and this was evident as he caught Joe Gomez‘s lofted pass into the box and, cutting from left to right, fired a low effort into the bottom corner for 2-0 at the break.
HT: Atalanta 0-2 Liverpool
- Liverpool win opening three group games for first time in Champions League
- Jota scores hat-trick in stunning display; seven goals in first 10 games
- Salah level with Owen as Liverpool’s second-top all-time European goalscorer
- Rhys makes first Champions League start; Neco makes Champions League debut
- Reds comfortably top of Group D after perfect start; eight scored, zero conceded
In the BT Sport studio before the game, Michael Owen expressed the baffling opinion that Liverpool are not built to counter-attack, and Salah made a mockery of this as he moved level with him in the club’s all-time European goalscorers’ list.
With Papu Gomez – widely heralded but largely quiet throughout – delivering a weak corner into the near post, an impressive played a brilliant pass to the onrushing Salah, who charged the length of the Atalanta half and guided it in.
Salah then turned provider minutes later, with Liverpool’s throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark no doubt delighted watching on as an underrated set-piece situation allowed the No. 11 to feed Mane, who chipped Sportiello for 4-0.
Anything you can do, I can do better, sang Jota’s boots, as he ghosted behind the Atalanta defence once again to run onto Mane’s deft pass and turn into the net for a first hat-trick in Liverpool colours.
There was still time for an Atalanta chance, and it came with Duvan Zapata selling Gomez with a simple turn, and the Colombian’s rasping effort deserved a goal, only to hammer back off the post and somehow out for a goal kick.
An unassailable lead allowed Klopp the luxury to flex the five-sub rule again, and both full-backs, the two senior midfielders and the hat-trick hero were all afforded rest ahead of likely starts away to Man City on Sunday afternoon.
Salah almost grabbed another with a near-carbon copy of his first, but the Egyptian was unable to fire his left-footed effort on target as he was closed down by Sportiello.
Regardless, Liverpool comprehensively outplayed an Atalanta side who, on face value, looked to have been overhyped in the buildup; these were potential seven-time European champions at work.
TIA Man of the Match: Diogo Jota
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan (ROU)
Atalanta: Sportiello; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Hateboer, Pasalic, Freuler, Mojica; Gomez; Zapata, Muriel
Subs not used: Gollini, Rossi, Depaoli, Ilicic, Lammers, Malinovsky, Miranchuk, Pessina, Romero, Ruggeri, Scalvini, Traore
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Tsimikas 82′), R.Williams, Gomez, Robertson (Milner 65′); Henderson (Keita 65′), Wijnaldum (N.Williams 82′), Jones; Salah, Mane, Jota (Firmino 65′)
Subs not used: Adrian, Kelleher, Matip, Cain, Shaqiri, Minamino, Origi
Next Match: Man City (A) – Premier League – Sunday, November 8, 4.30pm (GMT)