Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinals featured eight strong teams in enticing first-leg games. Entering the matchday, the favorites were far and away Bayer Leverkusen and Liverpool, and the two were on a collision course in the final. However, the prospect of that changed massively after the first leg of the quarterfinals.

Bayer Leverkusen continued its undefeated season with a 2-0 win over West Ham United. Late goals from Jonas Hoffmann and Victor Boniface locked up a first-leg win with goals and the 83rd minute and stoppage time. That should set up a chance to reach the semifinals of the Europa League. However, the story of the day is undoubtedly Liverpool’s collapse at home to Atalanta.

The two clubs entered this game in contrasting forms. Liverpool, fresh off a draw against Manchester United, remained near the top of the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s side breezed past Sparta Praha with an 11-2 win on aggregate. Meanwhile, Atalanta had one win in its last six Serie A games to slump into sixth in the Serie A table. A 3-2 win over Primeira Liga leaders Sporting put Atalanta into this season’s quarterfinals. Yet, the reward for that was a matchup with Liverpool.

This first leg at Anfield may go down as one of the best nights in the history of Atalanta. An eventual 3-0 win in true smash-and-grab fashion has dramatically changed the outlook of the Europa League this season.

Shocker in the Europa League quarterfinals on Thursday

Rather than backing down against Liverpool at Anfield, Atalanta opened the game strong. Several chances early on almost put the visitors ahead. Caoimhín Kelleher made a strong save on Mario Pasalic after just three minutes. That interest in attack opened the door for Liverpool’s attack to have chances, too. The best of those for the Reds fell to Harvey Elliott. A long-range effort had Atalanta goalkeeper Juan Musso beaten. However, the ball clanged off both the crossbar and the post before Atalanta cleared it away. That was part of a vicious stretch from Liverpool where it came close several times.

Perhaps that made Liverpool too comfortable in the offensive half. A counter-attack down the right side gave Atalanta a shocking lead. Gianluca Scamacca pounced on a square pass from Davide Zappacosta to thump the ball in. That would be the lead entering the halftime intermission.

As expected, Liverpool came out in the second half invigorated. Several great chances came close to pulling Liverpool level after Klopp made three changes at halftime. However, Atalanta doubled its lead at the hour mark through Scamacca. The Italian only scored three goals in the Premier League with West Ham last season. Now, his brace had Atalanta dreaming on Thursday. The Reds thought they pulled within one after 80 minutes, but Mohamed Salah was offside.

Instead, it was Atalanta to score the next goal. Mario Pasalic added to the woes in the 83rd minute to make Liverpool’s task that much more demanding. Atalanta capitalized on a defensive miscue for Liverpool and a loose rebound from Kelleher to make it 3-0.

Other results in the Europa League

Liverpool’s loss was not the only game that provided a surprise result. Roma won at the San Siro over Inter Milan. Gianluca Mancini scored the only goal of the game as Roma continued its fine form under Daniele de Rossi. Jose Mourinho’s replacement has guided Roma from ninth in Serie A to fifth. After losing to Milan in both of the league games this season, Roma bested its Italian rival in this Europa League first leg. Now, it carries a lead back home to the Stadio Olimpico.

The return legs in the Europa League quarterfinals are in one week. Coverage in the United States is available on Paramount+.