Josip Ilicic stuns Liverpool with quickfire second-half goals for 0-2 Champions League win for Atalanta

Champions League: Revenge is Sweet For Atalanta

Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta

Four minutes was all it took for Atalanta to do something that has never been done in a long time.

The Gian Piero Gasperini-mentored club dealt Liverpool its first defeat in Anfield since 2017, and they did so methodically through their solid and well-thought out gameplan.

Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens scored one goal apiece as they took advantage of Liverpool’s porous defence that has already been handicapped with the absence of skipper Virgil van Dijk.

It can be noted that the Dutch defender suffered a horrific injury during their Premier League match against Everton last month when goalkeeper Jordan Pickford collided with his knee. 

Atalanta exacted revenge over their earlier defeat in the Champions League group stages. Prior to this match, the Champions League 2020 odds were stacked against them to move on to the knockout phase since they were sitting at third place with only four points.

In stark contrast, the Reds were in prime position to advance since they are on top of Group D with nine points. A win here would’ve officially booked their spot, but instead they will need one more to seal the deal. 

On the other side of the fence, Ajax won over Midtjylland convincingly with a 3-1 score which puts them level with Atalanta.

If Atalanta lost this match, it would’ve effectively ended their Champions League campaign, and now they live to fight another day. 

Here at SBOTOP, let us recap the thrilling action with last night’s set of Champions League 2020 highlights. 

 

Highlights of the game

Coming into this game, Atalanta weren’t coming in confident as they were struggling to find their form.

La Dea were fresh from a disappointing draw against Spezia in Serie A after escaping a loss against Inter Milan in the week prior.

The accumulation of wear and tear due to a compressed schedule has taken its toll for Atalanta, and that is also the case for Liverpool. 

To compensate for their injury-ravaged roster, Jurgen Klopp decided to bring in some of their young guns to start.

Teenagers Rhys Williams, Neco Williams, and Curtis Jones were put into the starting XI, while they welcomed back Mohamed Salah after recovering from COVID-19.

Seldom-used forward Divock Origi was also featured out front as to give rest to Roberto Firmino and the red-hot Diogo Jota.

Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens had their feet to the gas pedal from the get-go as they fired in a couple of attempts already after six minutes.

In the ninth minute, Papu Gomez almost scored Atalanta’s first when he rifled a low shot near inside the box, but his attempt was inches too wide.

Two second-half goals from Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta earn a Champions League victory over Liverpool

Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini gestures from the sidelines in match against Liverpool at Anfield

Three minutes later, Liverpool would get their first chance when James Milner’s cross found Rhys Williams, but Pierluigi Gollini was alert enough to block the ball.

The first half was littered with failed attempts and chances, but it was clear that La Dea were more in control.

After a lacklustre first half from both sides, Atalanta would finally get in the scoring column. 

Josip Ilicic drew first blood when he slid in the ball after receiving a curling volley from Papu Gomez in the 60th minute.

Papu Gomez would help Atalanta score again four minutes later as his left side cross found Hans Hateboer, and the latter tipped it over to Robin Gosens for an easy finish.

With the Reds down by two goals, Jurgen Klopp brought in Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota to try and add more firepower. 

However, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men showed teeth and muscle as their defence held up all evening. 

 

Key statistics

The Anfield has been a fortress for Liverpool in recent years, which makes this loss shocking to say the least.

Atalanta became the first Italian side to win in Anfield since Udinese in the 2012 Europa League.

This was the Reds’ first defeat from home since 2017, where they lost against Crystal Palace with a 2-1 scoreline when former Liverpool forward Christian Benteke tallied a brace.

Last night marked the first time since 2014 that the Reds are two goals behind in a Champions League fixture.

Jurgen Klopp’s men didn’t have their shooting boots on as they’ve only generated four total shots with not a single one on target. Meanwhile, Atalanta had eight with four of them on target.

 

What’s next?

Liverpool will fly over at the Falmer Stadium to visit Brighton and Hove Albion this Saturday for their next Premier League game.

On the other hand, Atalanta will serve as hosts to Hellas Verona in Serie A later that day over at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. 

 

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