Europa League: Liverpool eliminated as Atalanta books semifinal spot

Atalanta progressed to the Europa League semifinals despite losing 1-0 to Liverpool on Thursday as it triumphed 3-1 on aggregate to move one step closer to a first ever European final.

Atalanta had stunned the Premier League club 3-0 in the first leg last week at Anfield, levelling another huge blow to Liverpool’s dreams of a fairytale ending in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season.

“We gave ourselves a massive hurdle (in the first leg), but I liked the game a lot for a long time, the commitment, the desire, the power the boys showed was incredible,” Klopp told TNT Sports.

“It is mixed emotions. We would have wished that we could have gone to Dublin (for the final), but that hasn’t happened. We now have one competition left (Premier League) and we will throw ourselves into that completely.”

Liverpool got off to a quick start as talisman Mohammed Salah scored from the penalty spot in the seventh minute, fuelling hope that a remarkable comeback was in the making.

But while Klopp’s men looked little like the shaky side which was steamrolled by Atalanta at Anfield, particularly in the first half, Gian Piero Gasperini’s team held on in what the manager had called the biggest game in the team’s history to earn a semifinal place against Olympique de Marseille.

“If you don’t win without danger, there’s no glory to your triumph,” Gasperini said. “The fans always ask us for the shirt to be soaked in sweat, and that’s one thing we must have at a minimum.”

Salah had Liverpool’s best chance at a second goal when he was sent in one-on-one against goalkeeper Juan Musso, but he chipped the ball well wide.

Later in the first half, Salah almost set up Luis Diaz with a ball over the top into the area, but it hit the arm of Isak Hien. Liverpool screamed for a penalty to no avail, and Diaz was booked for dissent.

Liverpool, which won the League Cup earlier this season, now turns its attention back to the Premier League. It is level on 71 points with second-placed Arsenal and two points behind leader Manchester City.

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