Klopp slams Liverpool players for lack of discipline , Latest Football News - The New Paper

Klopp slams Liverpool players for lack of discipline

LONDON – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has criticised his players for “losing the plot”, as their hopes of winning the Europa League were left hanging by a thread after a shocking 3-0 home defeat by Atalanta in the first leg of their quarter-final clash on April 11.

Bayer Leverkusen are now favourites to win Europe’s second-tier club competition after Xabi Alonso’s side beat West Ham United 2-0 to extend their unbeaten record this season.

Liverpool will still hope to make the final in Dublin on May 22, their final game before Klopp steps down as manager, but they face a monumental task to turn their last-eight tie around after a stunning Atalanta performance.

“It was a really bad game, oh my God,” said Klopp.

“We started really well but didn’t continue. Before they scored we just lost the plot. We were everywhere and nowhere. Midfield was spread like that, right midfield and left midfield, I didn’t recognise it a bit. It was really strange. In football terms, that’s (a lack of) tactical discipline. 

“We played a bad game, we deserved to lose and we must feel that now. But the boys have exactly this night to feel bad about and then we have to build up again for the Crystal Palace game (on April 14).”

The Reds, who started with Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai among the substitutes, saw Harvey Elliott come agonisingly close to opening the scoring with a shot that hit the bar and struck the post on its way back out.

Atalanta then took the lead seven minutes before half-time when Davide Zappacosta’s low ball in from the right was finished off by former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca.

The same player made it 2-0 on the hour with a fine finish from Charles de Ketelaere’s assist.

Salah, who had come on at the start of the second half, then had a goal disallowed for offside before Atalanta made it 3-0 with seven minutes left.

Caoimhin Kelleher spilled a shot by Ederson and Croatian midfielder Mario Pasalic followed in to score.

The stunning victory for the side who sit sixth in Serie A ends Liverpool’s 33-game unbeaten run at home.

Recent history suggests there is still hope for Klopp’s side, as they won 5-0 away to Atalanta in Bergamo in the Champions League group stage in 2020-21, a campaign in which they also lost to the Italian side at Anfield.

Elsewhere in Germany, Bundesliga champions-elect Leverkusen made it 42 games without losing in any competition this season as they beat West Ham to seize control of their quarter-final tie.

Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface both came off the bench to score late goals, with the opener arriving in the 83rd minute and the second coming in injury time.

The victory continues what could be a stunning week for Leverkusen, who are 16 points clear of Bayern Munich in Germany and can win their first Bundesliga title by beating Werder Bremen at home on April 14.

If Leverkusen finish the job against West Ham, they will advance to a semi-final against either AC Milan or Roma.

Roma ran out 1-0 winners at the San Siro to their Serie A rivals, while the other game saw Benfica beat Marseille 2-1 in Lisbon. – AFP, REUTERS

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