Atletico Drown Liverpool In Last 16 First Leg Of UEFA Champions League - DaOptimistic World

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Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Atletico Drown Liverpool In Last 16 First Leg Of UEFA Champions League

Atletico 1 VS Liverpool 0

Liverpool was the victims of an old-fashioned masterclass at the Atletico Madrid on Tuesday as Diego Simeone's side grounded a 1-0 victory in Madrid to give themselves hope to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Saul Niguez lifted the roof by scoring in the fourth minute before Atletico's defense kicked in at a booming Wanda Metropolitano, stifling the European champions and denying them a single shot on target.

If Alvaro Morata hadn't slipped in the second half when given a good chance, Atleti might have even taken a two-goal lead to Anfield, where they can expect an onslaught next month.

Even though Liverpool is still in favor of overcoming this deficit and going through it, the Atleti fans ' roar at the final whistle, aimed at their fist-pumping players on the pitch, suggested that Simeone's team believe now.

Few had tipped them to keep this tie alive for the second leg, let alone advance, despite their own stuttering form, while Liverpool, unbeaten in the Premier League, is gunning for a triple.

Jurgen Klopp said there was a "results machine" on Monday Atletico but the temptation was to see his words as platitudes, not a precise reflection of a side that sits 13 points behind Real Madrid's La Liga leaders and has already lost six times this season.

Under Simeone, however, Atletico has also become synonymous with overcoming the odds, just as they did when they won the Spanish title in 2014 and then reached the Champions League final twice.

We called the spirit here for all their struggles this season to deliver the kind of performance full of tenacity, determination and courage that would always be needed to give them any chance of success.

Simeone was surprised to start Thomas Lemar this year for the first time, while Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa both came back from injury, the former from the beginning and the latter from the bench in the second half.

-Atletico snapping at the heels–

Liverpool, who started with their planned eleven, blitzed multiple opponents with explosive beginnings, but they were the ones who rocked early as Atletico snapped at their heels, pressed hard and relished to be the first in any loose ball.

They took the lead, aided by a hint of fortune as Liverpool failed to clear the corner and for Saul to stab in from three yards the ball cannoned back off Fabinho's foot.

On the pitch, Simeone beckoned his players to remain calm but they danced in the corner while the fans were delirious and given hope in the stands.
Atletico was given a lead to defend and the remainder of the half was largely a picture of Liverpool dominating the ball but failing to break down the 10 red and white shirts in front of it.

Their best chances fell to Mohamed Salah but, before sidefooting into an open net, he passed the mishit clearance of Jan Oblak to offside Firmino, and then saw a deflected shot fly over.

Oblak's error came shortly after Virgil van Dijk's equally unusual mistake, whose poor header may have proved costly, only for Morata to miss the chance from the angle.

Sadio Mane was replaced by Divock Origi on a yellow card at half-time while Lemar made way for the more conscientious Marcos Llorente.

Simeone could sense the excitement from Liverpool and he responded by flapping his arms frenziedly to demand further support.

At the back post, Salah drifted into space but went low, and Atletico came unscathed through another pressing spell. Morata should have even made it two but slipped on Lodi's cut-back when he was about to pull the trigger.

He was taken off with 20 minutes left, along with Salah, and shortly afterward Costa made his return to a stream of home support acceptance. When the final whistle blew the roar was even bigger.

AFP

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