Atalanta boss explains the 'best compliment' Liverpool gave his side after Europa League upset

Gian Piero Gasperini has lauded Atalanta’s loss to Liverpool as ‘the best defeat of his career’ after his side progressed to the Europa League semi-finals.

An early Mohamed Salah penalty clinched a 1-0 victory for the Reds at the Gewiss Stadium, but Jurgen Klopp’s side were eliminated 3-1 on aggregate after losing 3-0 at Anfield last week.

Liverpool had been the favourites to win the Europa League for the majority of the season, only to fall short at the quarter-finals stage. And Gasperini has admitted knocking out the Reds is his ‘biggest triumph’, regardless of what Atalanta go on to achieve in the rest of the tournament.

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“We eliminated a great team, a great coach,” he said. “We did it with two games in which we put everything into, with great heart.

“The best compliment we received was that in Liverpool we didn't spend a single minute wasting time, deceiving the referee or the opponent. We played against a great team with the weapons of sport, with the weapons of football.

“We faced the match with our heads held high and the penalty could have cut off any other team because after five minutes it could have triggered a comeback.

“Instead, we built on that penalty a fantastic day in some respects, if we had been more lucid we would have also scored goals like at Anfield. Today there was great attention, even frenzy, you can defend in many ways: by staying inside the area or by going for them high up, us. We chose this, and the result was a very fast and hard-fought match.”

He continued: “This is my greatest triumph, having conveyed my beliefs to the players. Atalanta is this and for me, we were extraordinarily compact and it's a triumph of my work, now every player who has this type of mentality at the moment and for me it's fantastic. But what happened with Liverpool is worth even more.

“In my career perhaps there are no cups but there are many medals and this is one. It's also a trophy to see the compactness of this team and this locker room. I will never stop thanking them for something exceptional they have done for Bergamo and for my career.

“These two matches were two precious medals and Atalanta has a whole treasure chest of them. We hope to be able to add a cup, even if there aren't many playable ones. It was certainly the best defeat of my career.”