An overcomplacent performance by Liverpool will have Jürgen Klopp scathing as a professional and intense performance by Atalanta spiced up things in Group D as the Italians ran out 0-2 winner at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League.
Klopp made five changes from the side that put Leicester to the sword at the weekend. Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi returned to the XI as did Neco Williams, Rhys Williams and Kostas Tsimikas who were thrust into a heavily rotated backline.
A scrappy start to the opening 15 minutes of the contest saw the Italian outfit carve out the better chances as both Josip Ilicic and Papu Gomez both had golden chances to put the visitors ahead but failed to hit the target, before Robin Gosens tested Alisson with a vicious near post effort.
The rest of the half didn’t get much better for Liverpool as the rotated Reds looked a shell of the side that tore their opponents apart 0-5 in the reverse fixture.
Although possession was evenly split, the Reds were yet to register a single attempt on target by the half-time whistle as both teams disappeared down the tunnel after a rather underwhelming first half.
An equally poor start to the second half by Liverpool saw the visitors take the lead on the hour mark through Ilicic.
Gomez found himself unmarked down Liverpool’s right flank with time to lift his head and pick his spot. The Argentine attacker curled in an in-swinging cross in towards the Liverpool penalty spot where Ilicic was arriving. The Slovenian timed his run well, staying onside and sneaking in behind Tsimikas to slot the ball calmly past Alisson. 0-1 after 60 minutes.
Klopp did not waste any time in calling on the cavalry as Andrew Robertson, Fabinho, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino all entered the fray immediately following the goal, replacing Tsimikas, Origi, Salah and Gini Wijnaldum.
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The changes did not have the immediate impact Klopp was hoping for as the visitors doubled their lead minutes later through Gosens.
Similarly to the first goal, Gomez was allowed space and time to pick out a cross as he curled one into the back post. Hans Hateboer creeped in round the back connecting with the cross, angling his head back across the face of goal an into the path of the unmarked Gosens who simply tapped the ball in from point blank range. 0-2 after 64 minutes.
Although increasing the tempo of Liverpool’s play slightly, Klopp’s changes did not have the desired effect as the Reds continued to fail at testing Pierluigi Gollini in the Atalanta net.
In fact, the Atalanta goalkeeper would end the game untested as Liverpool ended the match without registering a single attempt on target.
The Reds are next in action on Saturday when they travel to south coast to take on Brighton in the Premier League.
Regarding Champions League action, the Reds will get a second chance to secure their qualification into the Round of 16 next Tuesday when they welcome Dutch champions Ajax to Merseyside.