Atalanta's Scamacca double

After Atalanta’s Scamacca double, Liverpool needed a miracle

Anfield lost its flags and Liverpool lost its strength. After a crushing first home loss in 34 matches to a talented Atalanta, the Europa League favorites needed another comeback to give Jürgen Klopp a Dublin final.

A manager who led Liverpool to many memorable European evenings may leave gently.

Former West Ham disappointment Gianluca Scamacca scored twice as Atalanta showed Klopp’s meek team the cutting edge, tactical discipline, physical might, and defensive might they lacked all night.

Liverpool’s first loss at Anfield in 26 games this season was their joint-heaviest European home loss. All justifications were gone. Klopp said his team “lost the plot” tactically and performed poorly in the campaign.

Liverpool failed to adapt to the Italians’ man-marking system and would have won more if Scamacca and Teun Koopmeiners hadn’t missed second-half chances. Not that Atalanta’s threats were bad.

They thrashed Liverpool’s defense with Charles De Ketelaere. Liverpool’s European history and stronger resources than their Europa League competitors ensure a recovery in Bergamo next Thursday, but it may be unlikely on this evidence.

Atalanta enjoyed defense as much as Scamacca adored proving a point. Liverpool could not respond.

Fan protests against Liverpool’s 2% ticket price increase next season were simple but powerful. Flags were absent from the Kop.

The Spion Kop 1906-organized spectacles have become a staple of European nights at Anfield and give the club a marketing fantasy.

An exception. After Spion Kop stayed away for the night, only one banner was raised before kickoff. “No to ticket price increases”.

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A European quarter-final at Anfield was unique in more than just the lack of color and noise. Liverpool felt nervous and vulnerable as Atalanta beat them at their own game.

This performance illustrated why Gian Piero Gasperini’s squad has won 11 Europa League away games in six years.

Mario Pasalic could have opened the scoring when Virgil van Dijk’s clumsy clearance hit De Ketelaere and rebounded into his path.

Unmarked, the midfielder’s shot deflected away for a corner after hitting Caoimhín Kelleher in the face from five yards out. Liverpool’s goalkeeper had a busy, mixed night.

After a Harvey Elliott pull back, Alexis Mac Allister missed a chance, then Darwin Núñez, assisted by Curtis Jones, missed a clearer chance with only Juan Musso to beat.

That was wasteful, but Liverpool also suffered when Kostas Tsimikas’ free-kick hit Elliott on the far side of the penalty area.

The offensive midfielder replaced Mohamed Salah and sent a Salah-esque curler over Musso that hit the bar and far post before bouncing clear.

The chances did not indicate Liverpool domination. Atalanta kept scoring through Davide Zappacosta. Koopmeiners’ clearance to the right wing-back opened the scoring.

Scamacca was unmarked when Zappacosta found him, and the striker finished low beneath Kelleher. The keeper appeared to cover Scamacca’s shot but let the ball slip his arms.

Kelleher made amends by preventing Koopmeiners from extending Atalanta’s lead at halftime. Klopp assessed Liverpool’s lackluster first half at halftime.

After the break, Andy Robertson, Salah, and Dominik Szoboszlai replaced Tsimikas, Elliott, and Jones. The trio gave Liverpool some much-needed urgency and bite, with Salah forcing Musso into a superb save from close range.

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Finally under pressure, Atalanta scored again just as Liverpool thought to be recovering. Creating right-hand space and another exquisite cross was their second goal.

De Ketelaere’s first-time delivery breached the home defense. Scamacca, left alone by Ibrahima Konaté, cushioned a lovely finish into the bottom corner.

Klopp experimented with Diogo Jota in a four-man assault, but Szoboszlai’s blunder gave Atalanta a third. Scamacca skillfully played in Ederson after the midfielder’s ball.

Kelleher saved from the midfielder, but Pasalic scored on the rebound to send Liverpool out of Europe unexpectedly.

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