Jürgen Klopp angry that Liverpool ‘lost the plot’ in Europa defeat by Atalanta

<span>Jürgen Klopp said his <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Liverpool;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Liverpool</a> side were ‘everywhere and nowhere’ in a dismal home performance against Atalanta.</span><span>Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images</span>

Jürgen Klopp claimed Liverpool “lost the plot” in their shock Europa League quarter-final defeat by Atalanta but defended his decision to rest key players in the midst of a Premier League title race.

Liverpool were soundly beaten by Gian Piero Gasperini’s impressive visitors as they succumbed to a first defeat at Anfield since Real Madrid triumphed 5-2 in the Champions League 14 months ago. Former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca scored twice to give Atalanta a deserved and comfortable lead to take into next Thursday’s second leg in Bergamo. Klopp admitted the Italians showed the tactical discipline that his team lacked on a rare off-night at Anfield.

“It was a really bad game, oh my God,” said the Liverpool manager. “We started really well but didn’t continue. Before they scored we just lost the plot. We were everywhere and nowhere. Midfield was spread like that, right midfield and left midfield, I didn’t recognise it a bit. it was really strange. In football terms, that’s tactical discipline. But we had a big chance from Darwin [Núñez] and were unlucky with Harvey [Elliott] and then they scored a goal and we kept playing into their hands.

Related: Liverpool left needing miracle after Scamacca double for Atalanta

“We played a bad game, we deserved to lose and we must feel that now. But the boys have exactly this night to feel bad about and then we have to build up again for the Crystal Palace game. That’s how it is. Congratulations to Atalanta, really well done.”

Klopp rested Mohamed Salah, Luis Díaz, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson from his starting lineup – all were eventually introduced – and insisted he would not have changed the selection with hindsight with Liverpool vying for the Premier League title.

He added: “That’s how it is, we lose a game and it’s the changes, but I get the question 100%. One of the reasons I would do exactly the same again is if we want to be good in the rest of the season we have to make changes. By the way, we lost the second half 2-0 and the first half 1-0 so I don’t know which one was better. I am responsible for this result first and foremost, I know that, but the decision [about the starting lineup] would remain the same.”

Liverpool need another famous European comeback next week to preserve Klopp’s hopes of ending his reign with a Europa League final in Dublin next month. But he cautioned: “Now is not the moment for having a big mouth and telling them [Atalanta] what we will do there. This was a low point for us performance-wise tonight, I would say, for a long time. It should be possible to play a little bit better [in the second leg]. And if we can play a little bit better than we can play much better as well. But first and foremost Sunday. That’s much more important now.”