This week saw Liverpool journey to the Wanda Metropolitano stadium only to leave the once joyous venue empty handed. The hosts bagged an extremely lucky early goal and they held on for the rest of the game, we were due some bad luck. Atletico Madrid diving throughout the game forced Sadio Mane off at half time.
Atletico took the lead after just four minutes when Saul Niguez tucked in from close range.
The Reds can feel hard done by with the goal, it shouldn’t have been a corner in the first place and the way the ball fell to Saul’s feet was fortunate to say the least.
From there on out it was attrition from the hosts.
The visitors had 73% of possession but failed to capitalise due to the stubborn and overall impressive low block they faced.
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However, the hosts also employed some less savoury tactics.
In the first half Atletico Madrid persisted in diving around Sadio Mane.
There was a clear game plan designed to limit Sadio’s impact on the break with the nearest player constantly throwing himself into the ground in the winger’s presence.
The forward was booked for a high arm which was arguably the right decision but aside from that it was pathetic to see the manner in which Atletico Madrid players flopped around after a shoulder challenge from Sadio Mane.
At half time Jürgen Klopp took the African Player of the Year off and replaced him with Divock Origi, with Melissa Reddy quoting the boss as saying:
“I was a little afraid the opponent would go down even if Sadio took a deep breath. I didn’t want that situation so that’s why I took him off.”
Unfortunately, in European competition we too often see referees give soft fouls when a player rolls around to exaggerate contact.
Fingers crossed the officials for the next game review the footage from the first leg and prepare themselves for Atletico’s antics.