by Hasib Afzal (@LFCTalk7)
Diogo Jota's hat-trick - and a goal each for Mo Salah and Sadio Mane - sealed a 5-0 victory over Seria A side Atalanta. The Portuguese — deputising for the out-of-form Roberto Firmino— will surely now start in place of the Brazillian against Manchester City on Sunday.
How it happened
Liverpool started the game at a blistering pace, and Jota almost opened the scoring inside 2 minutes, ghosting past two defenders before firing a shot into the grateful hands of goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.
Despite the early scares, Atalanta responded well and a quickly worked free-kick played in Luis Muriel whose deflected effort was comfortably saved by Alisson.
But on 16', man of the moment Jata broke the deadlock by delicately chipping over Sportiello after meeting a perfectly weighted through ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The lead was fully deserved, reflecting Liverpool's early dominance with Atalanta chasing shadows. And things were about to get even worse for the Italian side
On 33', a Joe Gomez lofted cross was beautifully controlled and then, in double-quick time, rifled into the bottom left corner by Jota for his second.
The Reds were threatening to run riot; only moments later a misplaced pass was pounced upon by Sadio Mane, but the Senegalese's right-footed shot was thwarted by a wonderful fingertip save.
Reds Continue In The Same Vein after HT
The second-half was a mirror image of the first.
On 47', an Atalanta corner was hooked clear by Curtis Jones and chased, retrieved, and carried half the length of the field by a determined Salah who, after cutting onto is his left peg, fired into the top left corner.
The siege continued, and this time Salah was the provider. His through ball sent Mane clear and with his left foot dinked over Sportiello to rub salt onto Atalanta's already very salty wounds.
Jota Hat-Trick and ANOTHER Liverpool win
Jota completed his hat-trick on 56'. An inch-perfect pass by Mane sent Jota racing through on goal. Sportiello -helpless - was all at sea, and the Liverpool forward calmly rounded the keeper and side-footed home.
Atalanta were looking for a consolation - and to their credit almost got it. The lively Zapata drove at Gomez before firing at Alisson, but the Brazillian was equal to it, ensuring Liverpool preserved their third Champions League clean sheet in a row.
The Reds remain top of the group with a flawless record. Atalanta, in third, face a real battle to qualify for the knockout stages with Ajax bagging three points against Midjtlland on the same night.
Here's what Jurgen Klopp had to say to BT Sport:
"That was a performance we needed tonight. My boys played an incredible game, the front line defending and attacking was outstanding. Midfield organisation, desire, readiness. Top level, last line pushing up and knowing the threat Atalanta can cause. You win a game 5-0, you could score more goals but our goalie had to still make three world-class saves. Overall a really good game.
"It's about the players, it was difficult against us tonight, I don't think anyone could've defended against Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Diogo Jota so it wasn't about the tactics or our system it was about the team.
"90% of my players have three games in the international break, my players are still on duty. After City this weekend it's only me who gets a week off. But we have to recover now and we will need it. Then we can see who is available and City are a different team so we have to make sure we're ready for that."