Liverpool's Treble Hopes Crushed in Europa League Exit

Liverpool’s Treble Hopes Crushed in Europa League Exit

Liverpool’s hopes of a historic treble were dashed on Thursday as they were eliminated from the Europa League despite a 1-0 victory over Atalanta in the second leg of their quarterfinal matchup. The result ended Liverpool’s chances of winning three trophies in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield.

In Bergamo, Liverpool had a dream start when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross hit Matteo Ruggeri’s hand, resulting in a penalty. Mohamed Salah converted the spot-kick in the seventh minute, giving Liverpool an early lead. However, the Reds failed to capitalize on any other chances, falling short of their 5-0 win over Atalanta in the Champions League in 2020.

Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen remained on course for a historic treble by holding West Ham to a 1-1 draw at London Stadium. Xabi Alonso’s team advanced to the semifinals 3-1 on aggregate, setting up a clash with Roma in the last four.

In Rome, Roma coach Daniele De Rossi marked an extension of his contract announced earlier Thursday by reaching the last four with his team reduced to 10 men. Gianluca Mancini and Paulo Dybala scored for Roma, while Milan’s Matteo Gabbia netted a consolation goal.

With the English League Cup already secured, Liverpool still hopes for a second Premier League title under Klopp but is now in third and two points adrift of first-place Manchester City. Atalanta, despite its inconsistent Serie A form, has been shining in the Europa League, reaching the semifinals for only the second time.

In the Europa Conference League, Aston Villa advanced to the semifinals after a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Lille. Emiliano Martínez saved two spot kicks, and Douglas Luiz converted the decisive penalty. Villa will face Olympiakos in the semifinals, while Fiorentina and Club Brugge will meet in the other semifinal.

Atalanta Reach Europa League Semis Despite Liverpool Loss

Atalanta Reach Europa League Semis Despite Liverpool Loss

Atalanta’s historic European journey continued as they secured a place in the Europa League semifinals despite a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool on Thursday. The Serie A side’s 3-0 triumph in the first leg at Anfield proved decisive, as they held on to a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Liverpool, seeking a fairytale ending to manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season, started brightly and took the lead through Mohamed Salah’s penalty in the seventh minute. However, Atalanta’s resolute defense and tactical discipline prevented the Reds from mounting a significant comeback.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s team, playing in their biggest game in club history, absorbed Liverpool’s pressure and created several chances of their own. Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel both came close to extending Atalanta’s lead, but their efforts were thwarted by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

In the second half, Liverpool continued to dominate possession but struggled to break down Atalanta’s compact defense. The Italian side’s counter-attacking threat remained potent, and they could have sealed the tie with a second goal on several occasions.

As the game entered its final stages, Liverpool threw everything forward in search of an equalizer. However, Atalanta’s defense held firm, and they secured a famous victory that sent them into the semifinals for the first time in their history.

Meanwhile, newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen also reached the semifinals, but they were pushed to the limit by West Ham United. The German side drew 1-1 away at the London Stadium, but their 3-1 aggregate victory ensured their progression.

Xabi Alonso’s team trailed to Michail Antonio’s early header and looked shaky in the first half. However, they improved dramatically after the break and squandered numerous opportunities before Jeremie Frimpong’s deflected shot found the net in the 89th minute.

Despite their below-par performance, Leverkusen extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 39 games and remain on course for a treble.

Atalanta Stuns Liverpool 3-0 in Europa League Quarterfinal First Leg

Atalanta Stuns Liverpool 3-0 in Europa League Quarterfinal First Leg

Atalanta stunned Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals, dealing a major blow to the Reds’ hopes of a treble in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield.

The Italian visitors took the lead in the 38th minute through Gianluca Scamacca’s low drive past goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher. Klopp responded by bringing on Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai, and Andy Robertson in the second half, but Scamacca struck again on the hour mark, assisted by Charles De Ketelaere. Mario Pašalić sealed the victory for Atalanta with a goal seven minutes from time.

The loss damages Liverpool’s chances of winning the Europa League, Premier League, and FA Cup this season. The Reds have already won the English League Cup and are in a tight title race with Arsenal and Manchester City. However, their hopes of a treble now appear slim after this disappointing performance at Anfield.

Atalanta, on the other hand, will be confident of reaching the semifinals after their impressive display. The Italian side has now won both of their meetings with Liverpool this season, having also triumphed 2-0 in the group stage of the Champions League in 2020.

Bayer Leverkusen also boosted their chances of a treble by beating West Ham 2-0 in the other Europa League quarterfinal first leg. Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface scored late goals to give the German side a comfortable advantage heading into the second leg.

In the all-Italian matchup, Gianluca Mancini scored a header to give Roma a 1-0 win over AC Milan at San Siro. The victory was Roma’s first over Milan since October 2019 and ended the seven-time European champion’s hopes of winning the Europa League.

Benfica also took a step towards the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Marseille. Rafa Silva and Ángel Di María scored for the Portuguese side, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back for Marseille.

The second-leg games will be played next week, with Atalanta hosting Liverpool, West Ham traveling to Leverkusen, Milan welcoming Roma, and Marseille visiting Benfica.

Pulisic Fires Milan to Second, Juve Stalled by Atalanta

Pulisic Fires Milan to Second, Juve Stalled by Atalanta

Christian Pulisic’s solitary strike propelled AC Milan to second place in Serie A with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Empoli on Sunday. The American winger’s deflected effort proved decisive, as Milan extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions.

Pulisic’s goal came in the 79th minute, when his shot took a fortunate deflection off Empoli defender Sebastiano Luperto and nestled into the net. The 25-year-old has now scored 10 goals in all competitions for Milan since joining from Chelsea last summer.

“It’s a good feeling, it was good for us to get the three points,” Pulisic said after the match. “It wasn’t a nice goal, it was a bit lucky but at the end of the day we take it.”

Milan’s victory moved them 16 points behind league leaders Inter Milan, who defeated Bologna on Saturday. Stefano Pioli’s side will now turn their attention to Thursday’s Europa League last-16 return leg against Slavia Prague, where they hold a 4-2 lead from the first leg.

Meanwhile, Juventus’ poor form continued as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Atalanta. Teun Koopmeiners scored twice for the visitors, while Andrea Cambiaso and Arkadiusz Milik netted for Juve.

The result left Juve a point behind Milan in third place and six points adrift of fourth-placed Bologna. Massimiliano Allegri’s side have now picked up just six points from their last seven matches, casting doubt on their title hopes.

“We played well against a good team… we’ve gained a point on Bologna and Atalanta are now 11 points behind us,” Allegri said. “Our aim is to finish in the top four. I can’t criticise the team, it was a tricky atmosphere at half-time and they reacted well. The effort has never been lacking.”

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta remain sixth, four points behind Bologna. They were denied a victory by Diego Llorente’s last-gasp equalizer for Roma in Florence.

Llorente’s goal came in the fifth minute of stoppage time, after goalkeeper Mile Svilar had saved Cristiano Biraghi’s penalty in the 81st minute. Roma had been on a high after hammering Brighton in the Europa League on Thursday, but goals from Luca Ranieri and Rolando Mandragora had Fiorentina deservedly ahead until Llorente struck.

Svilar’s crucial save meant that Fiorentina have failed to score from the penalty spot four times this Serie A season. “All those players you’ve seen miss are penalty takers,” said Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano. “We can’t do any more than work on them in training and taking them when they come along.”

Lecce remain level on points with Empoli in 15th after being beaten 1-0 at home by Verona. However, the biggest story from that match was coach Roberto D’Aversa’s headbutt on Verona striker Thomas Henry. D’Aversa later admitted to Sky Sport that his behavior was “inexcusable.”

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