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Atalanta’s German defender Robin Gosens (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League football match between Liverpool and Atalanta Bergamo at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on November 25, 2020. AFP

 

Liverpool wasted a chance to book their place in the Champions League last 16 as Atalanta earned a shock 2-0 win at Anfield on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side could have guaranteed qualification from Group D with a victory, but they produced a poor display that was deservedly punished by the impressive Italians.

Two goals in four minutes from Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens in the second half gave Atalanta a memorable victory that ended Liverpool’s 100-per cent record in this year’s tournament.

Liverpool had thrashed Atalanta 5-0 in Italy at the start of the November to make it three wins from their first three group games.

But for the first time since Virgil van Dijk was lost to a serious knee injury at Everton in October, the Reds looked vulnerable at the back in a rare Anfield defeat.

Beaten for the first time in nine games in all competitions since Van Dijk was sidelined, Klopp’s group leaders still have their Champions League destiny in their own hands.

Early qualification would have allowed Klopp to rest players for the final two group matches amid a hectic schedule.

Instead, Liverpool host Ajax next week with work still to do before their final game against FC Midtjylland.

Atalanta’s victory moved them to level with Ajax and within two points of Liverpool.

Liverpool’s injury list remains long, with Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold all unavailable.

Klopp named a makeshift defence featuring only Joel Matip from Saturday’s win over Leicester as Neco Williams, Rhys Williams and Kostas Tsimikas started.

Even so, this was a sloppy showing from the Premier League champions.

 Frustrated Klopp

Atalanta took advantage of Liverpool’s lack of cohesion at the back when Gosens got in behind Matip and smashed a powerful strike that Alisson Becker pushed away.

Papu Gomez was next to exploit Matip’s creaky start when he eluded the centre-back and fired just wide from the edge of the area.

Tsimikas’s poor headed clearance gave a chance to Ilicic, but he could only shoot wide.

Liverpool were no more convincing in attack, despite the presence of Mohamed Salah — back after missing one match due to his positive coronavirus test — and Sadio Mane either side of Divock Origi.

Waving his arms and gesticulating at his players, Klopp’s frustration was visible as half an hour passed without Liverpool mustering a single shot.

Salah finally had a sight of goal just before half-time, but he couldn’t keep his effort on target from an acute angle.

Liverpool were no better after the interval and they fell behind in the 60th minute.

Gomez whipped over a teasing cross that Liverpool failed to deal with and the unmarked Ilicic stole in to slot past Alisson from close range for his first goal of the season.

Klopp had seen enough and made four changes immediately after the goal as he hauled off Salah among others and sent on Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Andrew Robertson.

The switches weren’t enough to spark lethargic Liverpool into life and Atalanta struck again in the 64th minute.

Liverpool were dreadfully slow to react as Gosens produced a clinical finish from 10 yards after Gomez’s precise delivery was nodded across goal by Hans Hateboer.

AFP

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Fans gather outside the morgue where the late Argentine football star Diego Maradona’s body will undergo an autopsy “to establish the cause of death” -as public prosecutor John Broyard said-, in San Fernando, Buenos Aires province, on November 25, 2020. Juan Mabromata / AFP

 

Stunned Argentines were plunged into grief Wednesday by the death of the country’s favorite son Diego Maradona, a sublimely gifted sporting hero they saw as “the most human of Gods.”

The news fell like a hammer blow a nation beaten down by months of economic crisis and the health pandemic, but one where soccer is seen as a panacea for all ills.

Fans searching for a place to grieve gravitated towards the Obelisk landmark in the center of Buenos Aires — and, of course, the Bombonera, the steep-sided cauldron of a stadium that is home to Boca Juniors, where Maradona’s genius was forged.

“I can’t believe it. It’s incredible. One thinks one gets through any storm, but no, everyone ends up being mortal. It feels like a bad dream. A joke,” Francisco Salaverry, 28, told AFP.

“Today’s a bad day. A very sad day for all Argentines,” President Alberto Fernandez summed up in an interview with sports channel TyC, after declaring three days of national mourning.

All around the city, the mourning had already begun as fans stood forlornly beside banners in homage to the Number 10, showing Maradona — who died aged 60 of a heart attack — in his dashing prime.

Many of the banners simply said D10S, a play on the Spanish word “Dios” for “God” that includes Maradona’s jersey number.

– ‘Wandering, Dirty, And Sinful God’ –

If soccer is a religion in Argentina, then Maradona really was its God — especially for the founders of the Maradonian Church, a mostly internet-based group that uses religious language to venerate the player.

The “Church” called on fans to gather in his honor at the Obelisk at 6:00 pm (2100 GMT), a traditional rallying point in central Buenos Aires for soccer celebrations.

“I prefer not to speak. I’m going to the Obelisk today,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, a fan who gave himself a tattoo of his idol on October 30th to celebrate Maradona’s 60th birthday.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 09, 2001, Argentinian football star Diego Maradona greets the public in the “La Bombonera” stadium of Boca Juniors Athletic club in Buenos Aires. ALI BURAFI / AFP

 

Rodriguez, 42, couldn’t hold back his tears, saying he now knew he would never be able to fulfill his dream of hugging his idol.

“I’m totally shocked, grief-stricken,” said Gabriel Oturi, 68. “I’ll be honest with you. I thought he was a great guy who didn’t have very good people around him, who was taken advantage of a lot.”

“The first thing my 12-year-old son said to me was: ‘Mum, Maradona died.’ I couldn’t believe it. And I didn’t adore him particularly, but I felt sorry for him,” said Marcela Rodriguez, 52.

“Few times in my life have I felt the pain that invades me today,” wrote Maurico Passadore on social media, thinking about the famous World Cup tie against England in Mexico 1986, when Maradona scored the infamous “Hand of God” goal.

“Few times have I felt as much joy as that June 29, when we touched the sky with our hands, the same sky that today is darkened and fills us with tears.”

Some pointed out that Maradona died on the same date as his hero Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader he referred to as his “second father”.

Maradona’s struggles with drugs throughout his career were part of what made Argentines so protective of their hero.

An anonymous social media user went viral with a message saying Maradona “was a wandering, dirty and sinful God. The most human of Gods.”

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Maradona Joins Belarus's Brest As Chairman
Argentina’s forward Diego Maradona is carried on the shoulders of fans as he does a victory lap holding the FIFA World Cup after Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 in the World Cup final on June 29, 1986, in Mexico City. STAFF / AFP

 

The body of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, who died Wednesday, will lie in state at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning, the presidency announced.

Maradona would lie in state at the Casa Rosada palace so the public could pay homage to the sporting hero “from Thursday until Saturday,” presidency spokesman Mario Huck told AFP.

Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

From his birth in 1960 to Argentina’s World Cup triumph in 1986 and his positive drug test at the 1994 finals — here are 10 key dates in the colourful life of Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60:

– October 30, 1960 –

Maradona is born in Lanus, to the south of Buenos Aires.

The son of Diego Maradona and Delma Franco, he is one of seven children.

– October 20, 1976 –

Makes his debut in Argentina’s top flight for Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors, just before his 16th birthday.

He went on to win his first cap for Argentina in February 1977, selected by coach Cesar Luis Menotti for a 5-1 win against Hungary.

His first goal for Argentina came in a 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow in 1979.

– September 7, 1979 –

Wins the World Youth Championship, scor ing the third goal as Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the final in Tokyo.

– June 13, 1982 –

Now a Boca Juniors player, Maradona takes part in a World Cup match for the first time as the holders lose 1-0 to Belgium in the opening game at the tournament in Spain.

After the tournament he joined Barcelona and two years later he signed for Napoli for a world-record fee at the time.

– June 22, 1986 –

Scores his two legendary goals against England in the World Cup quarter-final in Mexico, the “Hand of God” and then his stunning high-speed slalom that was later named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.

Argentina went on to win the trophy, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

– July 8, 1990 –

Captains Argentina to a 1-0 defeat against West Germany in the World Cup final in Rome.

– June 25, 1994 –

Skippers Argentina to a 2-1 win over Nigeria at the World Cup in the United States.

After the match, he tests positive for ephedrine and is suspended for 15 months.

He had already been suspended for 15 months for cocaine use in his Napoli days.

Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and continued to struggle with drug and wider health problems.

He underwent gastric bypass surgery in Colombia in 2005.

– November 4, 2008 –

Becomes coach of Argentina, leading them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany, he departs after the tournament.

– November 3, 2020 –

Four days after his 60th birthday, Maradona undergoes brain surgery on a blood clot.

– November 25, 2020 –

Dies of a heart attack at home in the Buenos Aires suburbs as he recovers from brain surgery.

AFP

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 09, 2001 Argentinian football star Diego Maradona greets the public in the “La Bombonera” stadium of Boca Juniors Athletic club in Buenos Aires. ALI BURAFI / AFP

 

From his birth in 1960 to Argentina’s World Cup triumph in 1986 and his positive drug test at the 1994 finals — here are 10 key dates in the colourful life of Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60:

– October 30, 1960 –

Maradona is born in Lanus, to the south of Buenos Aires.

The son of Diego Maradona and Delma Franco, he is one of seven children.

– October 20, 1976 –

Makes his debut in Argentina’s top flight for Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors, just before his 16th birthday.

He went on to win his first cap for Argentina in February 1977, selected by coach Cesar Luis Menotti for a 5-1 win against Hungary.

His first goal for Argentina came in a 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow in 1979.

– September 7, 1979 –

Wins the World Youth Championship, scoring the third goal as Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the final in Tokyo.

– June 13, 1982 –

Now a Boca Juniors player, Maradona takes part in a World Cup match for the first time as the holders lose 1-0 to Belgium in the opening game at the tournament in Spain.

After the tournament he joined Barcelona and two years later he signed for Napoli for a world-record fee at the time.

– June 22, 1986 –

Scores his two legendary goals against England in the World Cup quarter-final in Mexico, the “Hand of God” and then his stunning high-speed slalom that was later named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.

Argentina went on to win the trophy, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

– July 8, 1990 –

Captains Argentina to a 1-0 defeat against West Germany in the World Cup final in Rome.

– June 25, 1994 –

Skippers Argentina to a 2-1 win over Nigeria at the World Cup in the United States.

After the match, he tests positive for ephedrine and is suspended for 15 months.

He had already been suspended for 15 months for cocaine use in his Napoli days.

Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and continued to struggle with drug and wider health problems.

He underwent gastric bypass surgery in Colombia in 2005.

– November 4, 2008 –

Becomes coach of Argentina, leading them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany, he departs after the tournament.

– November 3, 2020 –

Four days after his 60th birthday, Maradona undergoes brain surgery on a blood clot.

– November 25, 2020 –

Dies of a heart attack at home in the Buenos Aires suburbs as he recovers from brain surgery.

AFP

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File photo of Argentine legend, Maradona. Credit: AFP

 

Diego Maradona’s remains will undergo an autopsy later Wednesday “to establish the cause of death,” public prosecutor John Broyard said.

“The autopsy will be performed to establish the cause of death, which has only natural characteristics,” the prosecutor told reporters outside the house where the soccer idol died earlier in the day.

Broyard said the football legend died “at 12 noon” (1500 GMT).

Diego Maradona’s Life In 10 Key Dates

From his birth in 1960 to Argentina’s World Cup triumph in 1986 and his positive drug test at the 1994 finals — here are 10 key dates in the colourful life of Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday aged 60:

– October 30, 1960 –

Maradona is born in Lanus, to the south of Buenos Aires.

The son of Diego Maradona and Delma Franco, he is one of seven children.

– October 20, 1976 –

Makes his debut in Argentina’s top flight for Buenos Aires side Argentinos Juniors, just before his 16th birthday.

He went on to win his first cap for Argentina in February 1977, selected by coach Cesar Luis Menotti for a 5-1 win against Hungary.

His first goal for Argentina came in a 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow in 1979.

– September 7, 1979 –

Wins the World Youth Championship, scoring the third goal as Argentina beat the Soviet Union 3-1 in the final in Tokyo.

– June 13, 1982 –

Now a Boca Juniors player, Maradona takes part in a World Cup match for the first time as the holders lose 1-0 to Belgium in the opening game at the tournament in Spain.

After the tournament he joined Barcelona and two years later he signed for Napoli for a world-record fee at the time.

– June 22, 1986 –

Scores his two legendary goals against England in the World Cup quarter-final in Mexico, the “Hand of God” and then his stunning high-speed slalom that was later named “Goal of the Century” by FIFA.

Argentina went on to win the trophy, beating West Germany 3-2 in the final.

– July 8, 1990 –

Captains Argentina to a 1-0 defeat against West Germany in the World Cup final in Rome.

– June 25, 1994 –

Skippers Argentina to a 2-1 win over Nigeria at the World Cup in the United States.

After the match, he tests positive for ephedrine and is suspended for 15 months.

He had already been suspended for 15 months for cocaine use in his Napoli days.

Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and continued to struggle with drug and wider health problems.

He underwent gastric bypass surgery in Colombia in 2005.

– November 4, 2008 –

Becomes coach of Argentina, leading them to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany, he departs after the tournament.

– November 3, 2020 –

Four days after his 60th birthday, Maradona undergoes brain surgery on a blood clot.

– November 25, 2020 –

Dies of a heart attack at home in the Buenos Aires suburbs as he recovers from brain surgery.

AFP

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