Match Report: Atletico Madrid 1 Liverpool 0

     Jurgen Klopp recalled two players into his starting XI for today’s Champions League Round of 16 first leg tie. Sadio Mane regained his normal position in the XI, as well as Fabinho being reintegrated into his usual midfield role. To much of the surprise of many Reds around the world, this is the first time this XI have played together this season. In many opinions, this is Liverpool’s best team. 

     Atletico started brightly behind their deafening home atmosphere. An early cross was played into 

a dangerous area but Virgil Van Dijk cleared it out for a corner. 

     1-0 Atletico. Corner from the right from Koke not cleared by Liverpool and Saul smashed it home from close range. Nightmare start for Liverpool. 1-0 after 4’.

     Liverpool slowly began to grow into the game with a lot of passing and possession. Uncharacteristically, Trent had two good opportunities to fire in one of his teasing crosses, but shanked both of them well out of play. 

     All of the possession failed to lead up to much, as Simeone’s men were resolute in their defending, as always. Eleven behind the ball when the Reds are in possession. 

     Atleti finally got possession of the ball back, and full back Lodi fired a dangerous ball across Alisson’s six yard box, and with the ball bound to meet Morata at the back post for a tap in, Andy Robertson made a crucial touch to put the Spaniard off. Goal saving tackle for Robertson. 

     More intricate play from the home side saw Alvaro Morata on the end of a ball inside Liverpool’s box, Alisson did well to sweep it away and Van Dijk cleared. 

     Liverpool broke from this piece of play, and Firmino found Salah who converted his chance, but the Brazilian was well offside in the buildup. Still 0-0.

     Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey tried his luck from distance, but his chance was nowhere near the goal. 

     Liverpool regained possession and calmed things down following Partey’s miss. Robertson ran into space and tried an effort from 20 yards on his right foot. Well wide, but Liverpool began to grow into the game.

     Great link up play between Liverpool’s front three saw Firmino find Salah unmarked in the box, fired a shot on his favoured left foot, but was blocked behind for a corner. 

     Sadio Mane was shown a yellow card in the 41’ after getting tangled up with Atleti defender Vrsjalko.

     Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow card in the 45’ for a tackle on Jordan Henderson. 

     The referee awarded one minute of added time to the end of the first half. 

     Atletico’s players had a go at the ref and at Mane for a second challenge where they thought he should’ve seen red. Would’ve been harsh. 

     Halftime whistle blew, Atletico Madrid 1 – Liverpool 0.

     Both teams came out for the second half having made one substitution each. Liverpool brought on Divock Origi for Sadio Mane and Atletico brought on Llorente for Thomas Lemar.

     Joe Gomez picked out a beautiful cross to Salah in the Atletico box, but Salah’s header was just wide. Should’ve hit the target. 

     Gomez was then booked for a tackle on Morata in the 59’.

     Divock Origi was played in behind two defenders down the line and even attracted Atleti keeper Jan Oblak way off his line, but a heavy touch saw the ball go out for a goal kick. 

     The Reds were much more lively in the earlier stages of the second half. The match was being run by them, but Madrid’s wall stood firm.

     Morata was picked out unmarked at the top of Liverpool’s box, but to the benefit of the Reds, slipped and fluffed his lines. Major let off for the Reds, as the score should probably have been doubled.

     Simeone made his second sub of the evening, bringing on Vitolo for Morata.

     Klopp then countered by bringing on Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for Mo Salah.

     Atletico made their third and final sub, bringing on Diego Costa for Angel Correa.

     Jordan Henderson went down with an injury in the 78’ and couldn’t carry on. James Milner was brought on to replace him. 

     Jurgen Klopp was booked in the 88’ for disagreeing with the referee, who, in Klopp’s defense, has been very biased tonight. 

     Referee added four minutes of stoppage time to the final 45. 

     Full time whistle blew. Atletico Madrid 1 – Liverpool 0. A night to forget for the Reds, as they were left frustrated and goal-less at the Wanda Metropolitano. A 1-0 scoreline is more than manageable for the Reds for their return leg to Anfield. It’s up to the KOP and the Anfield faithful to carry Liverpool into the quarterfinals now. 

Next Up: Monday against West Ham at Anfield. 

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