Liverpool will want one other second leg fightback towards Spanish opposition at Anfield to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals after Saul Niguez’s early strike handed Atletico Madrid a 1-Zero final 16, first-leg victory on Tuesday.
The European champions thrashed Barcelona Four-Zero after shedding the primary leg of their semi-final Three-Zero in Catalonia final season and don’t want such a dramatic flip of occasions this time spherical.
Nonetheless, after romping to a 25-point lead on the high of the Premier League, defeat was a extremely test for the Reds that they won’t have it simple if they’re to retain the Champions League.
AFP Sport appears at three issues we discovered as Diego Simeone’s Atletico rolled again the years.
Atletico rise to the event
It was not simply the holders’ relentless kind within the Premier League that made Liverpool enormous favourites to progress earlier than the tie, however Atletico’s poor season thus far that has seen Simeone’s future questioned for the primary time in his eight-year reign.
Nonetheless, on the massive event, Atleti revelled in rolling again the years to play the position of underdogs to perfection.
Saul’s early strike offered the right platform for a basic Champions League efficiency from a Simeone facet because the Spaniards soaked up Liverpool’s possession and strain with out Jan Oblak even being stretched to maintain a clear sheet.
One other enormous effort can be required to forestall one other well-known Anfield fightback on a European evening in three week’s time.
A 12 months in the past, Atletico beat Juventus 2-Zero at dwelling within the first leg of their final 16 tie solely to be eradicated by previous foe Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick.
Nonetheless, due to a raucous ambiance with Simeone characteristically enjoying the position of conductor, they a minimum of preserved a proud dwelling file in European competitors underneath the Argentine with now 37 wins and simply three defeats in 46 video games.
Higher name Saul
Saul has been one in every of Atletico’s key gamers who has did not match his usually excessive requirements this season.
Nonetheless, the Spanish worldwide has a behavior of developing with huge targets from midfield on Champions League nights.
He scored the one aim in a 1-Zero win over Bayern Munich that took Atleti to the ultimate in 2016 and was heading in the right direction in one other semi-final win towards Actual Madrid a 12 months later.
Saul’s first within the Champions League this season was removed from his most spectacular within the competitors as he slotted dwelling from shut vary after Liverpool did not clear a nook.
However it was greater than ok to offer Atletico hope of pulling off an enormous shock.
Liverpool’s journey illness
Defeat might have been simply Liverpool’s second with a senior staff in all competitions this season, however each have come within the Champions League and follows a development of adverse journeys throughout the continent for Jurgen Klopp’s males.
The Reds have misplaced seven of their final 11 away Champions League video games and are as soon as once more left counting on fortress Anfield to progress.
Regardless of having fun with practically 70 p.c possession, Liverpool didn’t handle a single shot heading in the right direction towards the mass ranks of Atletico defence on an off evening for his or her two high scorers.
Sadio Mane was substituted at half-time because the Senegalese ran the chance of being sent-off earlier than Mohamed Salah was additionally changed by Klopp 20 minutes from time.