Thomas Partey’s Atletico Madrid end Liverpool’s Champions League campaign

Atletico Madrid knocked Champions League holders Liverpool out of the competition at the last-16 stage after a dramatic 3-2 win at Anfield.

Substitute Marcos Llorente scored two extra-time goals as Atletico Madrid earned a 3-2 second-leg win to knock out holders Liverpool and advance to the Champions League quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate.

Jurgen Klopp’s defending European champions trailed 1-0 from last month’s first leg in Madrid but levelled up the tie through Georginio Wijnaldum’s header two minutes before half-time in Wednesday’s dramatic match.

Inspired Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak made a string of saves either side of Wijnaldum’s breakthrough goal and Andy Robertson headed against the crossbar as the contest went the distance at Anfield.

Roberto Firmino put Liverpool ahead in the tie for the first time with a goal early in extra time, but Llorente – brought on in the second half – capitalised on an Adrian error to swing the game back in Atleti’s favour and added a second eight minutes later.

Alvaro Morata applied gloss to the scoreline in the waning seconds of extra time, sending coach Diego Simeone sprinting down the touchline in delirious scenes from the visiting side and their travelling supporters.

Diego Costa wasted a glorious chance to extend Atletico’s aggregate lead when firing wide with only Adrian – in for the injured Alisson – to beat after just 13 seconds.

Liverpool, who failed to register a single shot on target in the first leg, recovered from that early scare and tested Oblak for the first time through Wijnaldum’s fifth-minute header.

Oblak was also needed to keep out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino as Liverpool desperately chased a goal to level up the tie.

And the all-important breakthrough arrived shortly before the interval as Wijnaldum guided Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross into the ground and away from Oblak.

Liverpool did not take their foot off the gas but were denied by a series of saves from Oblak, including impressive stops to again frustrate Oxlade-Chamberlain and Firmino.

Adrian reacted well to thwart Angel Correa but Liverpool soon turned up the heat as Robertson headed against the woodwork after Mohamed Salah’s shoot looped into the air.

Atletico thought they had won the game in the 93rd minute, only for Saul to rightly be flagged for offside, and they found themselves behind early in extra time – Firmino heading against the post with his first effort before converting the rebound.

But Adrian’s hacked clearance soon after proved costly as Llorente sent the ball out of the stand-in keeper’s reach, and the midfielder jinked inside Jordan Henderson to curl home from 20 yards for his second.

And with Liverpool pushing for the two goals they needed to progress, Morata took advantage of some space at the back and yet more questionable goalkeeping from Adrian to add a late third.

 

What does it mean? Stubborn Atleti end Reds’ double hopes

Diego Simeone’s men had to ride their luck at Anfield, where Liverpool were previously unbeaten in all competitions since September 2018. Thanks to the heroics of Oblak and Llorente, plus Adrian’s dodgy goalkeeping, they have kept their season alive and killed off their opponents’ hopes of a famous domestic and European double.

Marcos makes his mark

Llorente was brought on for the ineffective Costa 11 minutes into the second half to provide Atletico with an extra man in midfield, where they were being overrun. As it turned out, the former Real Madrid midfielder proved the star of the show with his two extra-time strikes and an assist for Morata’s late goal.

Horror show from Adrian

Liverpool’s goalkeepers have made more errors leading to goals in the Champions League than any other team’s since the start of 2017-18. Adrian gifted Atletico their all-important first goal of the second leg with a poor clearance and hardly covered himself in glory when trying to keep out the next two goals.

Key Opta Facts

– This was the first time Liverpool have failed to progress from a two-legged tie in European competition (including qualifiers) under Klopp, having previously been successful in each of the previous 10.
– Liverpool have lost a home European game at Anfield for the first time under Klopp – with this their first defeat at home in Europe since October 2014.
– Liverpool have lost both legs in a Champions League knockout tie for the first time since the last-16 stage in 2005-06 vs Benfica. They had previously not lost a last-16 tie since that elimination.
– This was the first ever Champions League game to see four goals scored in extra time.
– Llorente is only the second ever Atletico player to score twice as a substitute in a Champions League game after Sergio Aguero vs Chelsea in November 2009.
– Firmino scored his first goal at Anfield in 20 games in all competitions, since netting vs Porto in April 2019 – 337 days ago.

What’s next?

Liverpool are now left fighting for just one trophy this season. They could clinch a maiden Premier League title with victory over Merseyside rivals Everton on Monday should Manchester City lose to Burnley on Saturday.

Atletico return to LaLiga action with a trip to Athletic Bilbao in four days’ time.

By: Daniel Lewis

 

RELATED