Jota hat-trick as five-goal Liverpool crush Atalanta

Bergamo (Italy) (AFP) –


Diogo Jota scored a hat-trick as Liverpool crushed Atalanta 5-0 in their Champions League Group D clash in Bergamo on Tuesday.

Portuguese forward Jota turned in the first for the Premier League leaders after quarter of an hour, adding a second on 33 minutes to put the visitors two-goals up at the break in a empty Gewiss stadium in northern Italy.

Gian Piero Gasperini's home side needed to pull off a comeback from two goals down as they did to hold Ajax 2-2 a week ago.

But Liverpool continued the punishment in the second half with Mohamed Saleh and Sadio Mane adding two more within four minutes, and Jota completing his hat-trick after 55 minutes.

Jurgen Klopp's 2019 Champions League winners are top of Group D with their maximum nine points and are five clear of both Atalanta and Ajax, who won 2-1 at Danish champions Midtjylland.

Jota continued his impressive form after moving to Anfield from Wolves in September.

The 23-year-old threatened within two minutes as he started up front alongside Salah and Mane.

Colombian duo Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel led the Atalanta attack in front of captain Papu Gomez.

But Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta lacked form with defender Hans Hateboer just getting the all clear before the game.

Jota cut inside Hateboer straight away but Marco Sportiello got down low to smother the shot, the Atalanta goalkeeper then tipping over a Mane goal-bound effort.

Muriel had a chance to open after quarter of an hour off a Gomez free-kick with former Roma keeper Alisson Becker struggling to control before stopping the ball.

The breakthrough came a minute later with Trent Alexander-Arnold sending through for Jota to muscle out Jose Luis Palomino and beat Sportiello.

Jota then again got the better of Hateboer for his second after 33 minutes with Sportiello denying Mane the chance of a third minutes later.

But Salah broke through two minutes after the break and set up Mane for the fourth two minutes later past an out-rushing Sportiello, with Jota completing the rout on 55 minutes.

The Portuguese became just the second player to score on his first two starts in the Champions League for Liverpool since Robbie Keane 2008, having opened the scoring in a 2-0 win over Midtjylland last time out.