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Atlético Madrid and Llorente stun Anfield to end Liverpool's reign - MW


Watch out for the punch from Atlético Madrid. Liverpool knew it was a possibility, but they controlled this Champions League match, but they dominated possession and opportunity. Although the margins are still thin, it can happen.

It was almost at the end of normal time when Trent Alexander-Arnold conceded an unnecessary free kick and Saúl Ñíguez led Renan Lodi, delivering the ball to Adrián. The Atlético celebrations burned like firecrackers only to fade when they saw an offside flag against Saúl.

Liverpool must win this match many times. They attacked in waves, crushing Atlético, testing their resilience to the limit. The most influential player on the pitch was the visiting goalkeeper, Jan Oblak, who made a series of excellent saves. Diego Simeone, manager of Atlético, then said that Barcelona Barcelona has Messi but we have Oblak Weather. Liverpool also blew away opportunities, nothing more formidable than a header in the 67th minute that Andy Robertson hit the crossbar when gloriously placed.

Klopp took the lead last night with a header from Gini Wijnaldum in the 43rd minute and at the beginning of extra time they finally got the goal to put them ahead. Wijnaldum was the creator, powering the right wing to cross for Roberto Firmino, who had a header into the post. When the ball bounced back to him, he drove it into another corner.

Work completed? Nothing. The sucker's punch came when Adrián accepted an Alexander-Arnold back-pass and put the ball low and straight to João Felix, who transferred it to his replacement Marcos Llorente. The midfielder, who joined last summer from Real Madrid, was unnoticed because of his scoring ability but no one could know that. He took one touch to place himself before slamming into the bottom corner. Adrián was extremely slow to descend and cross.


Unfinished Llorente. At the end of the first period of extra time, he received a pass from another replacement, Álvaro Morata, when Atlético broke down and, with the Liverpool players backing down, he repeated the trick. Touch, shoot, score. Once again, Adrián is not near the shot and it's easy to imagine that Oblak or, more often, Alisson - Liverpool, the No. 1 injury - will do better.

Liverpool were broken and Morata rubbed salt into their wounds by running over at the end to score again. Simeone's joys don't know the limits. It was a tough season for him and his team on the domestic front, with them currently lagging behind in sixth place in La Liga, after 13 points behind leaders, Barcelona. But here, they were searching for a famous victory. They found a way.

For Liverpool, it added up to a first home defeat in 18 months and a first ever European knockout reverse under Klopp. Most gallingly, they felt their grip loosen on the trophy that they had won last May, when they beat Tottenham at Atlético’s stadium to enable them to add a sixth star to their shirts. They are set to secure a first Premier League trophy since 1990 in the coming days or weeks and, in time, that will feel like the most important detail of a phenomenal season. Here, there was only frustration.

In the end, it was comfortable for Atlético but for the overwhelming majority of normal time, this was a siege, with Liverpool working the ball expertly and finding the spaces for first-time crosses. In total they racked up 34 attempts on goal and won 16 corners.


Wijnaldum had an early early morning and Oblak expanded more and more as the first half started. He saved the smart ball from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mané while he showed good reactions to beat an Alexander-Arnold cross through the crowd. During that time, Mané saw a title blocked by Lodi. Wijnaldum's goal came when he fled with a penalty and summoned the power and accuracy of his header from Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross. The ball bounces down and seems to speed up off the pitch on the way in.

Atlético were overrun in the second half and they had Oblak to thank for keeping them alive. His save to tip away a low Oxlade-Chamberlain effort from distance on 54 minutes, having snaked out a long arm, was of the highest order while his presence seemed to spook Firmino at the far post following a whipped Alexander-Arnold delivery.

Felipe had glanced wide at the near post following a Koke corner on 18 minutes and Felix worked Adrián on the break during the second half, the Liverpool goalkeeper rather fumbling the save and then diving to reach the loose ball ahead of Ángel Correa. But that was it from Atlético until Llorente drove the stunning turnaround and Klopp would not hide his anger at their defensive approach.

Liverpool pressed on, with Robertson blowing his header and also shooting wastefully while Oblak denied Alexander-Arnold, Mané was high with an overhead kick and Salah shot off-target. The script for Liverpool had called for another European comeback, with Klopp having presided over a few of those at this stadium. Atlético had not read it.

MW

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