Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta: Tired legs deny Reds early Champions League progress

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Liverpool were hugely disappointing in their bid to secure early progress to the Champions League last 16, losing their fourth group game 2-0 at home to Atalanta.

Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta

Champions League Group Stage (4), Anfield
November 25, 2020

Goals

Ilicic 60′
Gosens 64′


After a comprehensive and compelling victory over Leicester at the weekend, it may have been too much to ask of Liverpool to repeat this less than 72 hours later against Atalanta.

Champions League nights at Anfield have become synonymous with entertainment over the years, but in a season without fans and with a host of changes required, this has not been the case this season.

Jurgen Klopp made five alterations from Sunday night, with Neco Williams and Kostas Tsimikas making their first starts in the competition and Rhys Williams partnering Joel Matip at the back, and the makeshift nature of the side showed.

Alisson was required to make a strong stop early into the first half from Robin Gosens’ powerful strike, while Josip Ilicic had a penalty shout waved away by hit-and-miss referee Carlos del Cerro Grande.

The returning Mohamed Salah arguably had the best chance of the half for Liverpool, and that was a shanked effort with his right foot that soared high over the bar, summing up a tiresome opening 45 under the lights.

HT: Liverpool 0-0 Atalanta

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 25, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) and Atalanta's Remo Freuler during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Klopp makes five changes; full debuts for Tsimikas and N.Williams
  • Matip and R.Williams the 10th centre-back pairing of the season
  • Quickfire goals from Ilicic and Gosens put Atalanta in driver’s seat
  • Five changes unable to turn tide for Liverpool as senior players struggle
  • Ajax victory over Midtjylland opens up Group D; one win still sees Reds qualify

The second half began in a similar vein and Klopp was visibly and audibly frustrated, prompting him to prepare a rare quadruple change with Fabinho, Andy Robertson, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.

Before the foursome could enter the fray, however, Atalanta went 1-0 up through Ilicic, with Papu Gomez’s cross evading Tsimikas and finding the Slovenian at the far post for a tap-in.

It didn’t change much immediately, and in fact, the visitors grabbed another soon after as Gosens drifted into the box completely untracked by Rhys Williams and sidefooted home a volley with consummate ease.

Neither the pace nor the quality picked up as the half wore on, with Liverpool seemingly waiting for the final whistle to allow them to turn their focus to Brighton on Saturday.

When it eventually came it was a relief, as a dire 90 minutes at Anfield was brought to an end.

With Atalanta and Ajax both winning on Wednesday night, Group D opens up, but victory over Ajax or Midtjylland will still see Liverpool through.


TIA Man of the Match: Curtis Jones

Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (ESP)

Liverpool: Alisson; N.Williams, R.Williams, Matip (Minamino 85′), Tsimikas (Robertson 61′); Milner, Wijnaldum (Fabinho 61′), Jones; Salah (Firmino 61′), Origi (Jota 61′), Mane

Subs not used: Adrian, Kelleher, Koumetio, Cain, Clarkson

Atalanta: Gollini; Toloi, Romero, Djimsiti; Hateboer, De Roon, Pessina (Miranchuk 84′), Freuler, Gosens (Mojica 75′); Gomez, Ilicic (Zapata 70′)

Subs not used: Rossi, Sportiello, Palomino, Lammers, Muriel, Piccini, Ruggeri, Scalvini, Panada

Next Match: Brighton (H) – Premier League – Saturday, November 28, 12.30pm (GMT)

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