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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Europa League: 3-goal deficit makes it difficult for Reds, Atalanta books semi-final spot

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

Our Bureau, Reuters Bergamo Published 20.04.24, 10:45 AM
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Atalanta progressed to the Europa League semi-finals despite losing 1-0 to Liverpool on Thursday as they triumphed 3-1 on aggregate to move one step closer to a first-ever European final for the Serie A side.

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

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“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.

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

Unbeaten run

Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen reached the semi-finals but almost lost their season-long unbeaten record as they struck late to draw 1-1 away at West Ham for a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Xabi Alonso’s side trailed to Michail Antonio’s early header and were far below their usual high standards in the first half.

Leverkusen improved dramatically after the break and squandered numerous opportunities before substitute Jeremie Frimpong’s shot deflected past Lukasz Fabianski in the 89th minute.

The final whistle sparked loud celebrations from the travelling Leverkusen fans who can now look forward to a semi-final against AS Roma who they lost to at that stage last season. Leverkusen are now unbeaten in 44 matches in all competitions this season and remain on course for a treble.

They came dangerously close to surrendering their proud record.

Roma advance

In Rome, AS Roma coach Daniele De Rossi marked an extension of his contract announced earlier on Thursday by reaching the last-four with his team reduced to 10 men.

Gianluca Mancini put the hosts 1-0 up early at Stadio Olimpico after Lorenzo Pellegrini’s shot bounced off the post and the defender was in the right place to net. Mancini also scored the winner in the first leg at San Siro last week.

Paulo Dybala doubled the advantage for the host 10 minutes later with a curled shot inside the far post before Matteo Gabbia pulled one back for Milan five minutes from time, nodding home a cross from forward Rafael Leao.

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