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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Player ratings as Reds suffer shock Anfield thrashing –

Liverpool’s Europa League hopes have been left hanging by a thread after a shock 3-0 defeat to Atalanta in the first leg of the sides’ quarter-final tie.

A brace from former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca and a further strike from Mario Pasalic condemned the Reds to their first loss at Anfield since February 2023, when they were beaten by Real Madrid.

And, barring a miraculous comeback in Bergamo, dreams of Jurgen Klopp capping his final season in charge with a European trophy look to be dead.


How the game unfolded

The raft of changes made by manager Klopp suggested he felt Liverpool might be in for a straightforward evening, but any such illusions were dashed early doors.

That was because it was the Italians who created the first big chance of the game as Pasalic forced Caoimhin Kelleher into an unorthodox save with his head when he should really have finished from close range.

Liverpool responded well, with Alexis Mac Allister driving over from a Harvey Elliott cutback before Darwin Nunez hit an effort straight at Juan Musso and then dinked a one-on-one chance wide.

And when Elliott hit both the crossbar and the inside of the post with a curling attempt from just inside the box, it seemed a matter of time until Liverpool scored.

However, the Reds’ failure to take their chances was punished soon after, Davide Zappacosta making full use of space on the right flank to cutback for Scamacca to pass the ball under Kelleher.

With the scoreline unchanged at half-time, Klopp looked to his bench, introducing Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson in a bid to change things.

It looked like that might work as Liverpool created a string of opportunities, with a Salah shot into the hands of Musso and a poor Nunez strike from close range the best of them

But Atalanta were there again for the sucker punch, Scamacca passing home a perfect cross from the right to send the visiting fans wild.

Liverpool looked stunned and suddenly began struggling to carve out opportunities of their own having given the visitors something to defend.

And even when the Reds finally did break through, Salah was spotted venturing into an offside position before smashing home a Robertson cross in emphatic fashion.

Unfortunately for the hosts, their creative failings were once again punished at the death, Pasalic scoring from close range after being given too much space in the box to effectively end the tie.


Liverpool player ratings (4-3-3)

Kelleher made an early stop with his head / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Caoimhin Kelleher – 4/10 – Made a brilliant early save with his head but will be so disappointed with the first and third goals.

RB: Joe Gomez – 4/10 – Never looked comfortable with Atalanta’s aggression and took on some silly shots to waste possession going forward.

CB: Ibrahima Konate – 4/10 – Usually so commanding in the air but lost an unusual amount of duels as Atalanta’s physicality told.

CB: Virgil van Dijk – 5/10 – Not as involved as Konate but is usually so much better at organising his backline.

LB: Kostas Tsimikas – 5/10 – Allowed Zappacosta the freedom of Anfield to tee up the opener. Taken off at the break on just his second start since December.

CM: Wataru Endo – 5/10 – Wasn’t given a minute’s peace by an energetic Atalanta midfield and struggled both on and off the ball as a result.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister – 5/10 – Has been Liverpool’s talisman of late but just couldn’t get it going creatively on a tough evening for the entire midfield.

CM: Curtis Jones – 5/10 – Looked like a man who is still searching for rhythm as he makes his way back from injury. Hooked at half-time.

RW: Harvey Elliott – 5/10 – Hit the bar and post with Liverpool’s best effort of the first half but at times lacks the pace to make a big enough impact on the wing.

LW: Cody Gakpo – 6/10 – Arguably Liverpool’s best attacker but faded towards the end.

CF: Darwin Nunez – 4/10 – Looked like last season’s version of Nunez as he missed a host of presentable opportunities before being taken off on the hour mark.


Substitutes

SUB: Mohamed Salah (46 for Elliott) – 5/10 – Wasted a good opportunity.

SUB: Dominik Szoboszlai (46 for Jones) – 5/10 – Forced it too much.

SUB: Andy Robertson (46 for Tsimikas) – 6/10 – Brought impetus down the left-hand side.

SUB: Luis Diaz (60 for Nunez) – 5/10 – Couldn’t change things.

SUB: Diogo Jota (76 for Endo) – 6/10 – Added threat in his brief time on the pitch.

Subs not used: Adrian, Gravenberch, Clark, Alexander-Arnold, Quansah, Bradley, Bajcetic.


Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 4/10 – Completely underestimated Atalanta’s threat with his selection and couldn’t remedy it with his subs.


Player of the match: Gianluca Scamacca (Atalanta)

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