Liverpool demolished a much-fancied Atalanta side as they put five past their Italian opposition with no reply. Diogo Jota scored his first hat-trick for the club with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané also on the scoresheet, securing the three points in Group D of the Champions League.
Recent performances from Jota had left Jürgen Klopp with little choice but to start the Portuguese, who has become a revelation since arriving at Anfield from Wolves in September. The German’s selection was rewarded as his newly signed £45m man was nothing short of superb.
Against Atalanta he was lively and energetic, showing his determination in the opening moments of the game – he tested ‘keeper Marco Sportiello in just the second minute, and really should have scored.
The No.20 would go on to score his first goal of the game 13 minutes later. Trent Alexander-Arnold sent the forward through on goal and, after showing excellent strength to shrug off José Luis Palomino, chipped the ball over the on-rushing keeper with calmness and composure.
The second goal for the former Wolves player was the pick of the bunch. The Portugal international collected the ball from a superb long pass from Joe Gomez, took a touch inside the box to take it away from the defender before driving a volley into the near post to make it 2-0 with little more than half-an-hour on the clock.
Jota completed his hat-trick in the second half when Mané sent him through on goal. Sportiello sprinted off his line to try prevent a fifth Reds goal but the 23-year-old tapped it around him to score into an empty net, claiming the match ball and firmly pushing his way into the hearts of Liverpool fans so early on in his career on Merseyside.
The new arrival had four shots in the game before he was taken off on the 65th minute with all four of them resulting in a goal or a big chance for his side. He also completed two dribbles as well as winning four duels.Embed from Getty Images
Jota’s performance was exquisite, providing his side with an intense work-rate, pace moving forward as well as a deadly finishing ability in front of goal. The Reds have now finally found a forward who can compete with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Mo Salah – providing depth in a position which had needed more high-quality backup for a long time.
The Portuguese has now scored in two European fixtures for Liverpool as well as scoring in his first three home appearances in all competitions – a record which was last achieved by Luis Garcia in 2004/05.
He has put himself in an excellent position to start in one of his side’s biggest games of the season against Manchester City at the weekend. It will come as a surprise if Jota is selected to start on the bench rather than on the pitch.
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