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Atalanta's Mario Pasalic celebrates with Teun Koopmeiners after scoring their third goal against Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday. Image Credit: Reuters

London: Liverpool lacked tactical discipline against Atalanta on Thursday and fully deserved their 3-0 defeat in the Europa League quarter-final first leg match, manager Juergen Klopp said.

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Gianluca Scamacca struck either side of halftime before Mario Pasalic capped an impressive win for the Italians at Anfield as Liverpool slumped to their joint-heaviest home defeat in European competition.

“It just was a really bad game. We started well, really well, and then didn’t continue. I think even before they scored, we just lost the plot a little bit, we were everywhere and nowhere,” Klopp told reporters.

“(The) midfield was spread like that, right midfielder left side, left midfielder, striker. I didn’t recognise that, that was really strange. In football terms that’s tactical discipline.

“We played a bad game, we deserved to lose and we must feel that now.”

Chastening evening for former champions

On a chastening evening for former European champions in the continent’s second-tier club competition, AC Milan lost 1-0 at home to fellow Italian side AS Roma. Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen secured a last-gasp 2-0 home win over West Ham United.

Atalanta took the lead at Liverpool after 38 minutes when an unmarked Scamacca latched on to Davide Zappacosta’s cross to strike a low shot past keeper Caoimhin Kelleher who should have done more to keep the effort out.

Scamaca pounced on poor Liverpool defending to fire home from a fine cross by Charles De Ketelaere in the 60th minute before Mario Pasalic sealed the rout seven minutes from time with a simple finish off a rebound from Kelleher.

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Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp reacts during the quarter-final loss to Atalanta at home. Image Credit: AFP

Liverpool will seek to overturn the deficit in the second leg in Italy next week, but before that they host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday.

With the Merseyside club involved in a tight title race with Arsenal and Manchester City, Klopp said the players had to move on from Thursday’s defeat quickly.

Low point in a long time

“The boys have exactly this night to feel bad about it and then we have to build up again for the Crystal Palace game, that’s how it is,” he added.

“This was a low point for us performance-wise tonight, I would say, for a long time.”

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Bayer Leverkusen's Jonas Hofmann celebrates scoring their first goal. Image Credit: Reuters

Late strikes by Bayer Leverkusen substitutes Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface earned the Bundesliga leaders a two-goal advantage over West Ham and they remained undefeated this season with 37 wins and five draws across all competitions.

Leverkusen dominated the game but the visitors’ keeper Lukasz Fabianski pulled off a string of saves and kept out dangerous efforts by Alejandro Grimaldo and Patrik Schick to keep the scores level at the break.

First-time effort

Hofmann gave Leverkusen the lead in the 83rd minute, scoring with a first-time effort and striker Boniface doubled the advantage in stoppage time with a header into the bottom corner.

The hosts, who can clinch the Bundesliga title on Sunday, had 33 attempts on goal — 13 on target — compared to one sole effort by midfielder Mohammed Kudus for Europa Conference League holders West Ham.

Roma upset hosts Milan as Gianluca Mancini scored to end the capital club’s nine-match winless run against Stefano Pioli’s side.

Roma, who had last beaten Milan in 2019, took the lead thanks to Mancini’s pinpoint header from Paulo Dybala’s corner in the 17th minute.

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AC Milan's Olivier Giroud clashes with AS Roma's Gianluca Mancini and Romelu Lukaku during the quarter-finals first leg. Image Credit: Reuters

We lacked the flair

“We should have been more courageous,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “We created some chances, but I didn’t see the same quality as in the last matches.

“This team can do more, I know that. I didn’t expect the defeat, we weren’t precise, we lacked the flair.”

Portuguese champions Benfica claimed a 2-1 home win over Olympique de Marseille through goals by Rafa Silva and Argentine forward Angel Di Maria.

The second legs will be played next Thursday.