There are a few ways of looking at this game. On the one hand, Liverpool dominated possession on Tuesday night in Madrid, should have scored, and only conceded a freak goal. In other words, the performance was not as bad as some might make out.
What was disappointing, though, is how it was inevitable that if Atlético Madrid were to come away with a lead to take to Anfield, then this game would follow the exact pattern that it did.
Polish referee Szymon Marciniak did his part, giving free-kicks as if on command when the likes of Renan Lodi and Álvaro Morata flung themselves to the deck.
But Liverpool will be frustrated by more than just the refereeing display at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The Spanish side went ahead after four minutes. A ball that Fabinho would never have seen deflected off his standing foot into Saúl Ñiguez’s path, and the Atlético midfielder could not miss.
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The hosts’ early intensity immediately dropped into a doggedness exerted while defending deep. Sadio Mané got himself involved in this battle and Diego Simeone’s side retaliated by investing themselves into seeing the Senegalese sent off.
Jürgen Klopp took his left-winger off at half-time, fearing the worst. Liverpool had lacked a spark even with Mané on the pitch, and his departure did not help things. It is telling that Klopp’s side failed to register a single shot on target.
Mo Salah should have tested Jan Oblak when a Joe Gomez cross found him at the back post. The Egyptian headed wide, with the Slovenian scrambling across.
Salah was soon after — like Mané — brought off, further highlighting the visitors’ frustrations.
Nevertheless, Liverpool head to Anfield with this European tie very much in the balance. At any point in the Jürgen Klopp era when this has been the situation at the mid-point, his side have emerged victorious.
Your ratings, after disappointment in Madrid:
Ali 7 — Big first-half save from Morata kept the tie at 1-0.
Trent 6 — Would have hoped for more to be created from the number of crossing chances he was given.
JoGo 6.5 — Broke lines with passing quite well, after a nervy start. Superb cross from the right should have been converted by Salah.
Big Virg 6.5 — Poor first half, by his standards. Better second.
Robbo 7.5 — Liverpool’s best player on the night. Energy in abundance and a crucial interception prevented an Atléti second.
Hendo 6.5 — Received some stick on Twitter. Unfair, as the skipper was the Reds’ best midfielder. Came off with a tight hamstring late on.
Fabs 5.5 — In terms of regaining possession, the Brazilian did his job, but on the ball Fabinho was uncharacteristically sloppy. Took too many overly-optimistic long shots, as well.
Gini 6 — A brighter Red light in the first half, but faded after the break.
Mo 5.5 — Better touch would have allowed him to profit from Oblak’s miskick. Later, should have done better when heading wide. Looked distraught when unexpectedly substituted.
Bobby 7 — Liverpool’s greatest attacking threat by a distance.
Sadio 6 — Taken off at half time, after the referee decided that Šime Vrsaljko had not made the most of two fifty-fifty challenges, and looked ready to send the Senegalese off if he were to make another ‘foul’.
Divvy 5.5 — Very little of positive note.
Ox 6.5 — Denied two blatant free-kicks.
Milly N/A — Surprisingly brought on ahead of Keïta.