Diogo Jota continued his fine goal-scoring form for Liverpool, netting a hat-trick as the Reds dominated Atalanta, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané also getting on the scoresheet to see the Reds go five points clear at the summit of their UEFA Champions League group.
Jürgen Klopp made two changes from the side which claimed all three points at the weekend against West Ham. Rhys Williams was brought in to replace the ineligible Nathaniel Phillips, with Jota being preferred to Roberto Firmino following his game-winning exploits against the Hammers.
It was Liverpool’s in-form man who had the first chance of the game within the opening minutes as he easily skipped in behind the Atalanta back line only to see his one-on-one effort denied by Marco Sportiello in the Italian net.
Jota himself will probably have been disappointed with his early effort, but the Portuguese forward would not be denied and opened the scoring in the 16th minute as he netted for the fourth game in a row.
The openness of the game suited Liverpool as space was available all over the pitch. This freedom allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to inch forward and play a perfect ball in behind the Atalanta defence for Jota to run onto. The No.20 held off his marker and burst into the box before cheekily lifting the ball over the sprawling Sportiello and into the net.
With his confidence sky high, Jota continued to show glimpses of brilliance as the minutes ticked on and scored his second of the game in the 33rd minute to double Liverpool’s lead.
Resulting from a poor Liverpool corner, the Atalanta clearance was recycled out to Joe Gomez on the halfway line. The centre-back lifted his head and floated a van Dijk-esque ball over the top towards Jota. The Portuguese attacker picked it out of the sky with his first touch before leathering a half-volley inside Sportiello’s near post and into the back of the net.
The open nature of Atalanta’s system seemed to suit Liverpool’s style of play perfectly as the Reds continued to boss possession and run the game for the remainder of the half. Liverpool got off to an even quicker start to the second half as Salah bended in the third in the 48th minute.
This one came from a poor Atalanta corner – the ball into the box by Papu Gomez could not beat the first man – as Curtis Jones’s clearance set Salah away from within his own half. The Egyptian ran onto the looped through ball and was clear in behind, arriving into the box with pace before cutting back onto his favoured left foot and curling the ball into the top corner.
Liverpool’s blistering start continued as Salah turned provider only minutes later, laying on the assist as Mané grabbed the fourth of the game.
Having just scored, Salah unselfishly cut inside before playing a ball into the box and setting Mané through on goal. The Senegalese wideman needed only arrive before the charging Sportiello. He did just that, chipping the advancing goalkeeper in the process before wheeling away in celebration.
The Reds were unrelenting in their assault and just as was the case with the fourth goal, a Liverpool goalscorer turned provider yet again as Mané set away Jota for his third.
Having been set loose down the left flank by Jones, Mané lifted his head and played an outside of the boot through ball in behind the Atalanta backline for Jota to run onto. The Portuguese forward got a slice of fortune as he rounded the onrushing Sportiello before setting himself and guiding the ball into the abandoned Atalanta goal for his hat-trick.Embed from Getty Images
Despite Liverpool’s dominance, Atalanta showed flashes of why everyone predicted the game would be a much trickier tie, as Duván Zapata, who had been kept quiet by Williams and Gomez, had a couple of chances to find the back of the net. He struck the post before being denied moments later by Alisson himself following a powerful run down Liverpool’s left flank.
At 5-0 up Klopp took no risks, swiftly making changes as he looked to rest key players ahead of the upcoming visit to the Etihad this weekend, as his team kept possession and comfortably played out the remaining minutes of the game.
In truth Liverpool could have done further damage to their Italian counterparts with Sportiello being called on to deny the Reds on several occasions as the game drew to a close.
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