Premier League • England

Jurgen Klopp lets rip at Liverpool players after Atalanta mauling – ‘There’s nothing really positive to say’

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool v Atalanta

Jurgen Klopp refused to sugar-coat Liverpool's loss to Atalanta

Jurgen Klopp was completely shocked to see a Liverpool player he did not know his players were capable of after they suffered a “really bad” 3-0 home defeat to Atalanta in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Merseyside.

Klopp paid the price for not starting his strongest XI, with the likes of Mo Salah, Luis Diaz, Andy Robertson and Dominik Szoboszlai all on the bench, although it made no real dfference in the end as they all eventually came on and played a role in the heavy defeat.

Anfield was left stunned as former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca scored twice and Mario Pasalic completed the surprise rout late on.

Despite that, the tie is not over, with a second leg to come in Bergamo – although it will take a miracle reversal to see Liverpool make the last four.

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And Klopp was not sugar-coating the nightmare display after admitting he didn’t know that his players were capable of such a poor performance.

“Unfortunately there is nothing really positive to say about the game,” he told TNT Sports. “The start was good. Darwin Nunez had a good moment but from that moment on it became a really bad game and there is nothing positive to say.

“I didn’t like our tactical positioning in possession. It was a bad game from us. Atalanta had a good game, scored three goals and deserved to win.

“I will watch this game on Monday. I know already that if we do a couple of things better, we will be better. Can we win it back? Yes, if we play good it is possible. Can we win 3-0? I have no idea. But this feels really bad and that’s important.

“That was a bad performance and that’s how it is. That’s how we lost. It feels always in this moment that they are through but until we play, they are not.

“We haven’t had that that often so we have to show a reaction immediately on Sunday. In this moment it must feel bad. The lads must go home and sleep badly. But we must prepare for Crystal Palace.

“A lot of performances tonight were really ‘oops, wow, I didn’t know they could play like that’. A lot of the players looked really alone in a lot of moments. It was really bad. We had our biggest chances in the end and didn’t use them.

“I know the boys can play better football but they didn’t do it tonight and we have to show a reaction on Sunday. I’m pretty sure they will do that.”

Van Dijk rues ‘sloppy’ Liverpool display

After a first home defeat in 14 months, Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk added: “Obviously it’s not great. A very, very disappointing evening. Too many individual mistakes and we got punished for it. It feels bad.

“It hurts of course. We haven’t lost here for a long time. But we shouldn’t take the credit away from them.

“They punished us for being sloppy in possession. We still had chances to score one or two and unfortunately we didn’t.”

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The Reds are back in action on Sunday when they host Crystal Palace in the Premier League hoping to leapfrog Arsenal at the top.

Klopp’s men are level on points with the Gunners, who have a superior goal difference, with Mikel Arteta’s side facing Aston Villa later on Sunday.