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Champions League: Atletico Stun Liverpool In Last 16 First Leg

Saul Niguez raised the roof at a bouncing Wanda Metropolitano by scoring within the fourth minute earlier than Atletico’s defence kicked in, suffocating the European champions and denying them a single shot on course.

If Alvaro Morata had not slipped when given a very good probability within the second half, Atleti may even have taken a two-goal result in Anfield, the place they’ll anticipate an onslaught subsequent month.

But even when Liverpool are nonetheless favourites to overturn this deficit and undergo, the roar from the Atleti followers on the closing whistle, geared toward their fist-pumping gamers on the pitch, steered Simeone’s crew now imagine.

Few had tipped them to maintain this tie even alive for the second leg, not to mention progress, given their very own stuttering type whereas Liverpool, unbeaten within the Premier League, are gunning for a treble.

Jurgen Klopp mentioned on Monday Atletico had been a “results machine” however the temptation was to see his phrases as platitudes, not an correct reflection of a facet that sits 13 factors behind La Liga leaders Actual Madrid and had already misplaced six instances this season.

But Atletico below Simeone have additionally change into synonymous with upsetting the percentages, simply as they did when successful the Spanish title in 2014 after which twice reaching the Champions League closing.

For all their failings this season, they summoned that spirit right here to provide the sort of efficiency stuffed with tenacity, resilience and guts that was all the time going to be wanted to present them any probability of success.

Simeone sprung a shock by beginning Thomas Lemar for the primary time this yr whereas Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa each returned from harm, the previous from the beginning and the latter off the bench within the second half.

– Atletico snapping at heels –

Liverpool, who started with their anticipated eleven, have blitzed quite a few opponents with explosive begins however they had been those rocking early on as Atletico snapped at their heels, pressed laborious and relished being first to each unfastened ball.

They took the lead, aided by a touch of fortune as Liverpool did not clear the nook and the ball cannoned again off the foot of Fabinho for Saul to stab in from three yards.

On the sideline, Simeone beckoned his gamers to remain calm however they had been celebrating within the nook whereas within the stands, the followers had been delirious and given hope.

Atletico got a result in defend and the remainder of the half was largely an image of Liverpool dominating the ball however failing to interrupt down the 10 pink and white shirts in entrance of them.

Their greatest possibilities fell to Mohamed Salah however he handed Jan Oblak’s mishit clearance to the offside Firmino earlier than sidefooting into an open web after which noticed a deflected shot fly over.

Oblak’s error got here shortly after an equally uncommon mistake from Virgil van Dijk, whose poor header might need proved expensive, just for Morata to overlook the possibility from the angle.

Sadio Mane, on a yellow card, was changed at half-time by Divock Origi whereas Lemar made method for the extra conscientious Marcos Llorente.

Simeone might sense Liverpool’s momentum and he responded by frantically flapping his arms to demand extra assist.

Salah drifted into area on the again put up however headed extensive and Atletico got here by means of one other spell of stress unscathed. Morata ought to even have made it two however slipped when about to drag the set off on Lodi’s cut-back.

He was taken off with 20 minutes left, together with Salah, and Costa made his return shortly after to a wave of approval from the house assist. The roar was even larger when the ultimate whistle blew.

AFP

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