BERGAMO: Diogo Jota took his tally to six goals in 10 days with a Champions League hat-trick as Liverpool hammered Atalanta 5-0 to put themselves within touching distance of the knockout stages already.
The Portugal international’s recent scoring spree persuaded Jurgen Klopp to start him ahead of Roberto Firmino in Bergamo and he fully justified the manager’s decision with only the club’s fourth European treble away from Anfield.
He is in elevated company as Michael Owen (two) and Sadio Mane scored the others and what he has achieved already since his move from Wolves in mid-September suggests there could be more to come.
Jota, who could have had a first-half hat-trick but squandered possibly his easiest chance in the second minute, has now scored for a fourth successive match.
Jota is only the second man to find the net in his first two Champions League appearances for the club, after Robbie Keane in 2008, and already has more goals for the club in 2020 (seven) than Firmino (five) despite having arrived less than two months ago.
RESULTS — Gp A: Lok Moscow 1, At. Madrid 1; Salzburg 2, Bayern 6. Gp B: Shakhtar 0, Borussia Mg 6; Real Madrid 3, Inter 2. Gp C: Porto 3, Marseille 0; Man. City 3, Olympiacos 0. Gp D: Atalanta 0, Liverpool 5; Midtjylland 1, Ajax 2.
Finally Klopp has someone to not only challenge his established front three of Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Mane – the latter pair also both scoring within a couple of minutes of each other at the start of the second half – but to improve the much-vaunted unit and his £41million transfer already looks good value.
Jota’s impressive performance allowed Liverpool to win their opening three group matches for the first time and they have already established a five-point lead at the halfway stage with two home matches to come next.
Early qualification would be a major boost for Klopp in this most congested of seasons as it would give him the chance to offer some much-needed respite to his major players.
With Manchester City up next in the Premier League on Sunday he even took the opportunity here, removing Jota, who sparked an injury scare by hobbling off, Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson from the fray with 25 minutes to go and later resting Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum – all likely to be key figures at the Etihad Stadium.
Elsewhere, Manchester City beat Olympiacos 3-0, Real Madrid beat old rivals Internazionale 3-2 and holders Bayern Munich thrashed RB Salzburg 6-2.