Diogo Jota scored his first Liverpool hat-trick as the Reds made it three wins from three in Champions League Group D with a ruthless 5-0 thrashing of Atalanta.
Jota replaced Roberto Firmino in the starting line-up and vindicated his selection with two superb first-half strikes, clipping a shot over the goalkeeper before chesting the ball down and rifling a shot in at the near post.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane added to the goal-fest with brilliant efforts early in the second half, before Jota completed his hat-trick with the visitors' fifth with just 54 minutes on the clock.
The rout secured Jurgen Klopp's first victory as a manager on Italian soil and Liverpool's biggest away win in the Champions League since 2018 as they consolidated top spot and took a giant stride towards the knockout phase ahead of Atalanta's visit to Anfield in three weeks' time.
Atalanta: Sportiello (4), Toloi (4), Palomino (5), Djimsiti (5), Hateboer (4), Freuler (4), Palasic (4), Mojica (4), Gomez (4), Muriel (3), Zapata (6).
Subs: Malinovskyi (5), Pessina (6), Ruggeri (n/a), Depaoli (n/a), Lammers (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (7), Gomez (7), R. Williams (8), Robertson (6), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (6), Jones (8), Salah (8), Jota (9), Mane (8).
Subs: Milner (6), Keita (6), Firmino (6), Tsimikas (n/a), N. Williams (n/a).
Man of the Match: Diogo Jota.
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How red-hot Jota ripped Atalanta apart
It took just two minutes for Jota to register an attempt on goal as he looked to pick up from where he left off after his late winner against West Ham, but Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello was a match to his low drive.
A flurry of chances saw Mane and Curtis Jones draw saves out of Sportiello, either side of Luis Muriel forcing a stop from Alisson with his legs.
- Jose Luis Palomino and Duvan Zapata returned as Atalanta made two changes from the weekend victory at Crotone.
- Diogo Jota replaced Roberto Firmino as Liverpool made two changes from the win over West Ham. Rhys Williams made his full Champions League debut, replacing Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back.
But the Liverpool pressure told on 16 minutes as Jota latched onto Trent Alexander-Arnold's through pass, brilliantly held off the challenge Jose Palomino and chipped a shot over the goalkeeper into the bottom corner.
Liverpool nullified the threat of Atalanta's three-man attack and were a cut above their hosts as one soon became two on 33 minutes. Joe Gomez's long diagonal ball was brilliantly touched inside Hans Hateboer by Jota, who fired his second in at the near post.
Mane forced Sportiello into a stunning fingertip save as Liverpool threatened to put the game to bed before the interval. The hosts reached the break without sustaining further damage, but half-time offered only temporary relief for Atalanta.
Salah raced away on the counter, cut inside Hateboer and curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner within two minutes of the restart.
Mane then got in on the act, chipping another stunning effort over the beleaguered Sportiello after latching onto a Salah through ball.
Duvan Zapata spurned a glorious chance to get Atalanta on the board when he sent a tame header into the arms of Alisson, and two minutes later further salt was rubbed into the wounds as Jota latched onto Mane's pass, rounded the goalkeeper and showed great composure to complete his hat-trick.
Zapata rattled the post, forced Alisson into two saves and had a stoppage-time effort ruled out for offside as Atalanta's bid for a consolation fell short, but the Liverpool defence - which featured Rhys Williams starting alongside Gomez - were worthy of their clean sheet and worthy winners.
Analysis: Jota must start against City
Sky Sports' Adam Bate:
All eyes were on Diogo Jota against Atalanta and his response could hardly have been more emphatic. Given his chance alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah while Roberto Firmino watched on from the bench, Liverpool's new signing was the standout performer. A hat-trick to demand Jurgen Klopp keeps him in the team against Manchester City.
The goals were so different too. The first saw Jota show considerable strength before having the composure to steady himself and dink the ball, left-footed, beyond the goalkeeper and into the far corner. The second saw him cut inside onto his right foot before firing home with force at the near post. He sped in behind and rounded the goalkeeper for the hat-trick.
It is the fourth consecutive game in which Jota has scored for Liverpool - something that he never achieved for Wolves. Perhaps more significantly, it means Jota has now scored seven goals for his new club already despite signing for the club little more than six weeks ago. That is two more goals than Firmino has scored for Liverpool in the entire calendar year.
There will be those who point to the Brazilian's off-the-ball work and the space that he creates for others. No doubt that is true. But with Firmino's confidence looking dented of late, Jota's form in front of goal puts a different slant on it all. Klopp must now consider the fact that there is a price to pay for picking Firmino too - a diminished goal threat.
The fact that Mane and Salah were both among the goals against Atalanta also undermines the theory that Jota's presence might hinder their own threat. On this evidence, it is not necessarily that Jota is stealing the chances that would have fallen to the wide forwards. It might be that Liverpool look even more formidable with this new-look front three.
Of course, Jota's streakiness has long been a feature of his play - he averaged 1.8 goals per 90 minutes after scoring in games last season and has shown himself to be far more likely to score in the next game after scoring too. But he is flying right now and with so much at stake against City on Sunday, Klopp will surely be tempted to allow Jota to continue to soar.
Opta stats - Ruthless Reds reign in Italy
- Diogo Jota has bagged six goals in his last four games for Liverpool in all competitions (after just one in first six for the Reds), with only Mohamed Salah (9) netting more goals than the Portuguese for the club this season (7).
- Diogo Jota netted the 10th hat-trick by a Liverpool player in European Cup/Champions League history, after Mané, Coutinho, Benayoun, Owen, Rush, Wark, Souness (x2) and McDermott.
- Mohamed Salah is now joint-highest European Cup/Champions League goalscorer in Liverpool history, along with Steven Gerrard (21).
- Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp finally won away in Italy in the Champions League after losing on each of his five previous visits in the competition, courtesy of defeats to Napoli (3), Juventus and Roma.
- Liverpool have won each of their last four away games in the Champions League group stage, after losing four in a row before this between October 2018 and September 2019 (all under Jürgen Klopp).
- Atalanta's defeat was the second-biggest ever by an Italian side on home soil in European competition, after Roma's 1-7 loss to Bayern Munich in October 2014 in the Champions League.
- This was only the second time in Champions League history that Liverpool started with two teenagers, via Rhys Williams and Curtis Jones (also Danny Guthrie and Lee Peltier v Galatasaray in December 2006).
Live Renault Super Sunday
Liverpool travel to Manchester City on Super Sunday at 4.30pm - live on Sky Sports Premier League. Atalanta host Inter Milan in Serie A on Sunday at 2pm.