Liverpool’s senior XI suffered only their second defeat of the season at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Tuesday night as Atletico Madrid took control of their Champions League last-16 knockout tie following a 1-0 loss in the Spanish capital.
Diego Simeone’s team bullied and bloodied the Reds as Liverpool returned to the stadium where they won the competition last season. However, it wasn’t to be a happy hunting ground for Jurgen Klopp and his team a second time around after Saul Niguez’s opener inside five minutes was enough to ensure Atletico victory.
Commence Operation Anfield Exercise.
Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson was less than impressed with the La Liga outfit and aimed a dig at Simeone’s team for their notorious unsportsmanlike behaviour during the clash.
The Scotland captain claimed that Atletico players were “falling over” in a bid to try and unsettle and disrupt the rhythm of the Liverpool players throughout the match.
The Wanda Metropolitano Stadium holds beautiful memories for Liverpudlians, but this time it was against them, a bearpit desperate to halter this winning-machine that Klopp has meticulously constructed.
The European champions found themselves a goal down early on in the game after Saul Niguez scored before Atletico put 11 players behind the ball for practically the entire match.
The Spain international was first to react to the scrappy goal as the ball deflected off Fabinho from a corner and then calmly slotted the ball past Alisson Becker from a few yards out – it was only the second time the Brazilian shot-stopper has conceded in his previous 12 matches.
“The corner just ricocheted, it was tight but onside,” Robertson told BT Sport after the final whistle.
“We gave them the best possible start and that get the fans behind them and then they start falling over and getting under the skin a bit.
“We put in a decent performance and we know we can be better.”
But despite the setback to Liverpool’s plan to make it three consecutive European Cup finals, Robertson is confident he and his team-mates can mount a comeback at Anfield in the return leg.
“We’ve got a second leg to put it right,” he said.
“They celebrated as if they won the tie after the game.
“They are coming to Anfield and we know our fans will be there.”
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Despite their poor recent run of form, Simeone showcased why he is one of the great managerial minds in the game after he was able to contain Liverpool to very little in the contest.
Klopp’s team failed to register a single shot on target in the Spanish capital for the first time since September 2018 when they were beaten 1-0 by Napoli.
Liverpool dominated possession and finished the game having with 73 per cent possession, but while they managed eight shots at during the game, not one was on target to test Atletico shot-stopper Jan Oblak.
However, now is not the time to panic as Klopp rightly concluded in his post-match comments.
The German coach then finished by saying: “Welcome to Anfield. It is not over yet.”
The home of the European champions will be waiting and we’ve all been here before.