Liverpool’s Champions League hopes hang in the balance after they were dealt with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the last-16 tie at Wanda Metropolitano.
Saul Niguez scored the only goal of the game, where the team with more passion ended up winners.
After a scrappy start, Atleti scored from their first corner. A near-post cross wasn’t defended by the Reds and Niguez was on hand to tap his effort in from a couple of yards.
Thereafter, it was an exercise of the home side defending deep and the visitors having the majority of possession but not creating enough chances to get back into the game.
Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah had half-chances in either half, however, the former pulled his effort wide and the latter’s attempt was heroically blocked off.
Alvaro Morata had a clear sight of goal late on to make it two for the Spanish team, but the former Chelsea man slipped at the opportune moment.
All in all, a disappointing performance from Liverpool, who now have it all to do in the return leg at Anfield in three weeks time.
Here’s how we rated Jurgen Klopp’s men:
Alisson - 7
Alisson made a couple of good saves to keep the scoreline down. He couldn’t have done much to stop the winner.
Other than that, it was a usual performance from the Brazilian, where he had more use of his passing than shot-saving.
Trent Alexander-Arnold - 4
Alexander-Arnold had another sub-par game where his crossing was off the mark and general play wasn’t up to the mark.
Furthermore, some of his off the ball work could have been better as well.
Joe Gomez - 7
Gomez was probably the most assured player out there for the Reds in this game. His defensive work was very good and he made some good passes from the back.
His cross-field cross to find Salah’s run in the box was perfect. If only the Egyptian had finished the chance.
Virgil van Dijk - 5
Probably for the first time in a long while, van Dijk had an off day at the back. He was shaky in the first half and didn’t look comfortable at all.
Made amends after the break but looked rather flustered by the atmosphere and the intensity of the opposition’s play.
Andy Robertson - 8
The Scotsman had a great game at left-back, where he made some crucial defensive interventions and provided a lot of good moments in attack.
With Trent struggling on the other flank, he took up the mantle to be the driving force for the team. Only the final ball quality was lacking at times.
Fabinho - 5
There are still signs of rustiness in his play. It was evident when his passing was strayed on more than a few occasions.
The referee’s incompetence meant that the Brazilian was found guilty of fouling Atleti players, even though we believe that wasn’t the case.
Jordan Henderson - 6
Playing in an advanced midfield role, Henderson did his bit in terms of linking play between midfield and attack, but some of his final ball quality wasn’t up to the mark.
He had a good chance to score early in the second half which was missed.
The captain had to be subbed off later on after he complained of a hamstring injury.
Georginio Wijnaldum - 6
A restricted performance from Wijnaldum, who made the simple passes and covered the ground to stop counter-attacks, but never took risks on the ball to break the rigid opposition defensive line.
There were calls for Naby Keita to replace him in the game, but the Dutchman is a vital cog in big games, especially off the ball.
Mohamed Salah - 6
Salah tried his best to create chances for the team and also score them. He had two good opportunities in either half to score, but one of them was blocked and the other was whiskers wide of the post.
Klopp subbed him off after the 70th minute as Atleti defenders doubled and tripled up on him.
Roberto Firmino - 7
There was literally no space to work with for Firmino throughout the game. He did well to pick-up different positions and work the chances for the team.
The Brazilian’s work-rate off the ball was exceptional. It led to chances being created through the counter-press on a couple of occasions.
Sadio Mane - 3
Mane had an ordinary game, where he wasn’t sharp in the final third, got booked for a minimal foul on an Atleti player and had to be subbed off at half-time.
Klopp explained the substitution after the game, saying that he feared Atletico Madrid players were targeting the Senegalese in terms of getting him dismissed.
(SUB) Divock Origi - 5
Coming on at half-time, apart from one moment of quality where he found Henderson in the box, Origi was below par.
He tried to be too direct at times and ran into trouble.
(SUB) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - 3
Came on in the final 20 minutes and struggled to change the dynamic of the game. Klopp would have wanted more from him in terms of creative edge and directness on the ball.
(SUB) James Milner - 4
Came on for the injured Henderson in the final 10 minutes.