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Liverpool defeat Atalanta 1-0 but crash out of Europa League on aggregate

Liverpool defeat Atalanta 1-0 but crash out of Europa League on aggregate %Post Title

Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta with the Italian side reaching the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday.

Atalanta are in the last four of a European competition for the first time since 1988, despite Mohamed Salah’s early penalty giving Liverpool a 1-0 second leg win, thanks to their three-goal lead established in the quarter-final first leg at Anfield last week.

In what is becoming a sobering climax to the season, Liverpool have won just three of their last nine games in all competitions and again looked tired after already having played 52 games this campaign.

Jurgen Klopp may well only have the League Cup to show for his final season on Merseyside as the German’s team have been eliminated from the FA Cup and Europa League and trail Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Gian Piero Gasperini called Thursday’s match probably the most important Atalanta had ever played and his players were hailed as heroes at the final whistle by a pulsating crowd at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo.

Fireworks were shot into the air from behind the stands while in the ground supporters bounced and roared at a huge victory for their team against giants of European football.

Atalanta last reached the semi-finals of a European competition in 1988 when they were knocked out of the old Cup Winners’ Cup by Mechelen.

Atalanta were then a Serie B team but the future is increasingly bright for a historically small, provincial club which has been punching well above its weight ever since Gasperini took charge in 2016.

Reaching the last four even trumps their run to 2020 Champions League quarter-finals, where they were desperately unlucky to lose to Paris Saint-Germain.

That run came at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as Bergamo became the epicentre of a deadly global health crisis.

And Atalanta still have the opportunity to crown Gasperini’s reign with the club’s first major trophy since the Italian Cup in 1963.

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