Liverpool need to achieve historical club 1st to progress in Europa League

Liverpool face an uphill task to progress to the Europa League semi-finals at the expense of Atalanta, as they look to end a poor run after first-leg losses.

The Reds suffered a shock 3-0 defeat at home to the Serie A side last week, giving themselves a huge task on Thursday to make it to the semi-final stage.

Liverpool have lost four first-leg ties at Anfield in European competition, to Leeds (1971), Chelsea (2009), Real Madrid (2023) and Atalanta last week, and have never progressed to the next round.

If they were to manage to progress past Atalanta, it would be the first time in the club’s history they have lost a European first leg at Anfield and still got through.

On only eight occasions have they lost both legs of a knockout tie – Ferencvaros (1967), Red Star Belgrade (1973), Genoa (1992), Spartak Moscow (1992), Celta Vigo (1998), Benfica (2006), Atletico Madrid (2020) and Real Madrid (2023).

This is Liverpool’s 28th European quarter-final and they will be looking to reach a 21st semi-final, which would extend their British record.


Liverpool need a hat-trick hero

BERGAMO, ITALY - Tuesday, November 3, 2020: Liverpool's Diogo Jota scores the first goal past Atalanta's goalkeeper Marco Sportiello during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Atalanta BC and Liverpool FC at the Stadio di Bergamo. (Pic by Simone Arveda/Propaganda)

Liverpool need a minimum of three goals against Atalanta to have any chance of going through, so a hat-trick from someone would be ideal.

The Reds’ last hat-trick in Europe came courtesy of Mohamed Salah, who scored three times at Rangers in October 2022 (Champions League) after coming off the bench.

It is the most recent of 21 European trebles for Liverpool players.

The 20th came from Diogo Jota in a 5-0 victory away to Atalanta in November 2020, while the last hat-trick in the Europa League was by Steven Gerrard against Napoli (also as a substitute) at Anfield in November 2010.


Nunez out to join illustrious company

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 4, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Sheffield United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Darwin Nunez has faced some criticism for his recent form, but he can join an illustrious group of Liverpool players on Thursday.

The Uruguayan has scored nine goals in 17 European appearances for Liverpool – the fastest to 10 for the club are Sadio Mane, Salah (both 13), Robbie Fowler (16) and Roger Hunt (18).

Nunez has netted five times for the Reds in the Europa League this season, with Salah and Cody Gakpo on four apiece.


Clean sheet drought needs to end

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold looks dejected after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Crystal Palace won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have not kept a clean sheet in the last nine matches, since a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest in the Premier League last month.

They have yet to keep a shutout away from home in Europe this season, in four games, highlighting their defensive issues.

On the plus side, Liverpool have scored more goals in the Europa League this season than any other team.

They have 28, which is two more than second-placed Bayer Leverkusen with 26.


This season’s scorers

Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Sheffield United at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, Apr. 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Atalanta: Scamacca 14, Koopmeiners 13, De Ketelaere 10, Lookman 9, Ederson 7, Muriel 6, Pasalic 5, Miranchuk 4, Zappacosta 2, Bakker 1, Bonfanti 1, Djimsiti 1, Holm 1, Kolasinac 1, Ruggeri 1, Scalvini 1, Toure 1, Zapata 1, Zortea 1

Liverpool: Salah 23, Nunez 18, Gakpo 14, Jota 14, Diaz 13, Szoboszlai 7, Mac Allister 6, Jones 5, van Dijk 4, Elliott 3, Gravenberch 3, Alexander-Arnold 2, Danns 2, Endo 2, Bradley 1, Clark 1, Koumas 1, Quansah 1, Robertson 1, own goals 6

* Stats courtesy of LFC statistician Ged Rea (@ged0407).