Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool: Saul lets Rojiblancos dream

The midfielder scored early on and Atletico shut out the reigning champions

Saúl batió a Alisson en un remate cruzado ante la mirada de Van Dijk
Saúl batió a Alisson en un remate cruzado ante la mirada de Van Dijk | AFP

Jordi Gil

@jordigil

MATCH FACTS

Champions League

ATM

1-0

LIV

Atlético de Madrid

Oblak, Vrsaljko, Savic, Felipe, Lodi, Koke, Saúl, Thomas, Lemar (Marcos Llorente, 45'), Correa (Diego Costa, 76') y Morata (Vitolo, 70')

Liverpool

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson (Milner, 79'), Mané (Origi, 45'), Firmino y Salah (Chamberlain, 72')

Goles

1-0, Saúl (4')

Árbitro

Szymon Marciniak (Polonia). TA: Correa (44') / Mané (40'), Joe Gomez (58')

Incidencias

Wanda Metropolitano, 67.000 espectadores

This was more like it. Diego Simeone running wild on the touchline, scarves waved at a buzzing Wanda Metropolitano, 1-0 to Atletico Madrid.

Adrift for so much of this season, suddenly the real Atletico stood up, earning a vital Champions League last 16 first-leg victory.

The Rojiblancos took the lead early on, Saul Niguez stabbing home from close range in the fourth minute after Liverpool defended a corner badly. Fabinho should have cleared the ball to safety but failed to scramble it away and Saul stabbed in the loose ball.

Midfielder Saul has scored 10 Champions League goals for Atletico - each and every one has come as the opening goal of the game. Talk about a tin-opener.

After that it was classic golden era Atletico, backs to the walls, relishing in their role as the underdog. No longer allowed to play that most of the time, the visit of the European champions and Premier League leaders was a great opportunity for them to take up the mantle.

Alvaro Morata nearly made it two but Alisson Becker made a fine save at his near post to deny the forward. Mo Salah had the ball in the net at the other end but Roberto Firmino was clearly offside.

Atletico wanted Sadio Mane sent off, committing a foul while already booked, but Jurgen Klopp subbed him at half-time for Divock Origi. Meanwhile, Diego Simeone hauled off Thomas Lemar for Marcos Llorente, looking to further shut up shop and protect his lead to take to Anfield.

Morata might have struck after the break but slipped comically as he went to take a shot, soon related by winger Vitolo for the final stages.

At the other end Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson volleyed inches wide as the visitors searched for an equaliser at the anxious Wanda Metropolitano.

Jurgen Klopp took off Mo Salah too, curiously given Liverpool wanted a goal, but sometimes Diego Simeone’s side - at this, their stubborn best - drive you mad.

The Atletico coach will be happy with the result, regretful that his team didn’t score again. Liverpool will still believe they can turn this around at Anfield. But they got a taste of what it feels like to lose.

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