Don Kopleone rates the Reds after surviving a crazy away game packed with incidents and drama to come away from Madrid with all three points and a perfect Champions League record so far.
Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid is famed for grinding out results without always being the better team. When the current Spanish champions knocked Liverpool out of Europe 18 months ago, that stereotype was came true – Liverpool created chance after chance at Anfield but the visitors somehow scraped through.
This fixture more closely resembled the first leg of that tie, even though the ultimate 3-2 scoreline mirrored the second.
Liverpool took a two goal lead very quickly. Mohamed Salah worked space brilliantly before his shot somehow found its way into Jan Oblak’s far corner after a deflection, and five minutes later Naby Keïta had hammered home his second first-time volley in a matter of weeks.
Jürgen Klopp’s side was cruising, even if his players were yet to create a real ‘big’ chance. Diego Simeone’s charges began to engage in the contest more, and Antoine Griezmann flicked home when the Premier League team failed to properly clear a corner.
And before the half was out, Griezmann had equalised. Another poor goal to concede from a defensive standpoint.
After the interval, though, the French international’s fortune quickly changed. German referee Daniel Siebert had no choice but to send him off after his high boot caught the side of Roberto Firmino’s face.
Liverpool did not exert dominance over the 10 men as they might have done, and only found their winning goal through some mindless defending by Mario Hermoso – the Spaniard dragged down Diogo Jota inside the box, and Salah converted from the spot.
Even then the visiting Reds (or yellows here) struggled to see out the win. Atlético thought they had a late penalty but VAR intervened.
A good result – a great result, in fact. But this was not the kind of performance that inspires hope. Liverpool did not ‘grind out’ a win tonight, they just about stumbled over the line. Better will be needed for the visit to Manchester on Sunday.
Here are your ratings:
Ali 8 – Without doubt the outstanding player for his side. His awareness to close down opportunities was excellent as ever. Man of the match.
Trent 6 – Classy on the ball and in some defensive moments during the first-half, but seemed to lose his head as the game progressed. Even the ultimately-crucial hooked forward ball that led to the Salah penalty showed a lack of composure, by the right-back’s lofty standards.
Joel 5.5 – Caught needlessly chasing for the Atlético second and never seemed comfortable playing the offside trap. Not his best evening and, with Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konaté waiting for their chance, he cannot afford too many questionable performances.
Big Virg 5.5 – Poor body position meant he couldn’t cover Matip’s space when Griezmann equalised. A rare technical error from the Dutchman, who was caught facing the wrong way and paid the price.
Robbo 5.5 – Continually lost possession, inviting pressure back upon his team. How much longer before Kostas Tsimikas is given a chance in the first team?
Naby 6 – Showed both sides of the arguments as to whether or not he should be a regular starter for Liverpool. Scored an absolute screamer of a volley, but looked to be chasing shadows as the first-half wore on – notably for both Atlético goals – and was hauled off at half-time.
Hendo 6 – Looked the least lost of the starting midfielders, but that bar was low. Didn’t really do an awful lot to affect the game.
Milly 5.5 – Not credited with that first goal despite initial thoughts he had directed Salah’s shot beyond Oblak, and otherwise gave the impression of a player whose best central midfield days are behind him. Won a few duels, but was subbed off after picking up a yellow card as the temperature rose at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Mo 7.5 – Did wonderfully for the first goal, netting another eye-catching solo effort for the third game in a row – even if this one wasn’t quite as special as those scored against Manchester City and Watford. The match-winning penalty was also perfectly placed.
Bobby 6.5 – Involved in some good moments early on and generally set the press, but flickered in and out of the game. This was his 300th appearance for the club.
Sadio 6.5 – Atlético attempted to kick the Senegalese whenever he picked up possession. This should have resulted in two free-kicks in the edge of their box, but didn’t. Did a decent job, even if he was rarely in a position to score.
Fab 7 – Instantly made an impact after coming on for the second half, winning tackles to prevent counter-attacks that had been so dangerous before the interval. His absence from the Liverpool midfield is always noticeable.
Di-no-goal 6 – Won the spot-kick which proved to be the decisive moment in the game, but can thank referee Daniel Siebert for overturning his initial decision to penalise the Portuguese in the other box after a VAR review. Jose Giménez did initiate contact, but Jota can probably count himself lucky that the late penalty decision was overturned.
Ox 7 – Worked space for a decent shot at Oblak, before timing a defensive slid to perfection, ending a dangerous Atlético counter-attack. Possibly his most impressive cameo of the season so far.
Neco N/A – Shot high over the bar after finding himself on the edge of the area in injury time.
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