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In what could have been a tricky away game in the Champions League, Liverpool smashed Atalanta in Bergamo on Tuesday night. The Reds attackers motored passed the Italian side and put in five unanswered goals against a team that finished third in Serie A last season.
Diogo Jota justified Jurgen Klopp’s decision to start him with a hat-trick in the Champions League game, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane chipping in with two more to make it a comfortable night for the Merseyside giants.
The Reds are now sitting pretty at the top of Group D after winning their opening three games and are in line to qualify for the Round of 16 of the Champions League.
#3 Diogo Jota’s time has come at Liverpool
The summer signing has been pushing to replace Roberto Firmino in the starting eleven since the start of the season and it finally happened on Tuesday night. The Portuguese was named in the starting eleven in place of the Brazilian who took his place on the bench in Bergamo.
And the Liverpool new boy didn’t disappoint with a brilliant performance in Europe. Jota netted a Champions League hat-trick away from home and justified his selection in the starting eleven.
The Portuguese had already proved that he can make an impact from the bench but in Italy on Tuesday night that he is more than deserving to keep starting for the Reds going forward.
With Firmino struggling to score goals since last season, Jota’s place in the starting eleven was more than merited. But Liverpool will host Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday and it remains to be seen whether Jurgen Klopp continues to put his faith on Jota or reverts to his trusted Brazilian lieutenant in a big game.
#2 Atalanta’s blunted attack
Atalanta created history in Serie A last season with 98 goals in the league while finishing third behind champions Juventus and runners-up Inter Milan. They are still scoring goals this term but not at the levels of last season.
But their football has been about outscoring other teams and they didn’t hit the back of the net against a weak Liverpool defence on Tuesday night. The Italian side didn’t really trouble the Reds backline or put them under any kind of sustained pressure.
Duvan Zapata tried his best to make sure that the Liverpool defenders felt their presence. He hit Alisson’s crossbar in both the halves and also tested the Liverpool goalkeeper in some moments while netting an offside goal.
But apart from the forward, the Atalanta attacking line did very little and paid for their adventurous streak by conceding five at the other end.
#1 Rhys Williams impresses again
Virgil van Dijk’s boots are too big to fill but Liverpool are trying to find a way to keep going without their talismanic defender. Nathaniel Phillips impressed against West Ham at the weekend but he didn’t start the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Jurgen Klopp placed his trust on 19-year-old Williams as the teenage defender was handed the daunting task of keeping a threatening Atalanta attack at bay.
And the young centre-back impressed with his assured performance at the back in an away Champions League game. He didn’t look overawed by the occasion and managed to keep his head throughout his performance in Italy.
While it would be too early to judge Williams, especially because Atalanta didn’t threaten the Liverpool defence as much as they should have, it should still be reassuring for Klopp.
The Liverpool manager now has a couple of options he could turn to in order to partner Joe Gomez at the back in the absence of Van Dijk, Fabinho and more frustratingly, Joel Matip.
It remains to be seen whether Williams keep his place in the team when Manchester City face Liverpool on Sunday.