Liverpool breezed past an ill-disciplined Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening, confirming their qualification to the Champions League knockout stages with a comfortable 2-0 win.
After a thrilling victory for Liverpool in the reverse fixture last month, Jurgen Klopp concluded that drama is ‘guaranteed’ when his side duke it out with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. He was not disappointed.
The hosts broke the deadlock inside the opening quarter of an hour as Trent Alexander-Arnold arced a stunning, first-time delivery into the penalty area that left a gaggle of blue shirts walking the wrong way, but sat up invitingly for Diogo Jota to nod Liverpool ahead.
For the second time in as many weeks, Liverpool raced into an early two-goal lead against Atletico Madrid. Sadio Mane barrelled across the pitch, slaloming a flurry of challenges and laying the ball off before darting into the area. Alexander-Arnold’s arrowed pass sliced through Atletico’s frazzled backline to pick out his Senegalese teammate, who doubled Liverpool’s lead in the 21st minute.
At the start of another surge forward, Mane was scythed down by Atletico centre back Felipe to halt a counter-attack in the final ten minutes of the first half. After ignoring three parps of referee Danny Makkelie’s whistle to come face to face with the official, the Brazilian earned a straight red card.
Inside three minutes of the restart, Jota had the ball in the net once again after Joel Matip was allowed to saunter into Atletico’s half and punch a pass for the Portuguese who had strayed narrowly offside. Liverpool squandered a flurry of chances around the 53rd-minute mark as they sought to emphatically close out the contest as Mohamed Salah, then Joel Matip went close.
After losing by four clear goals on his returned to Merseyside with Barcelona in 2019, Luis Suarez was condemned to another miserable trip to Anfield as he had a deflected volley ruled out for an offside in the build up shortly before the hour mark.
Content with a two-goal and man advantage, Liverpool professionally ran down the clock, boasting more than 80% possession in the final half-hour but scarcely threatening to add to their tally.
Alisson (GK) – 7/10 – Scarcely called into dirtying his gloves, Alisson was characteristically composed with the ball at his feet.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 9/10 – Playing passes that few players can spot, let alone execute.
Joel Matip (CB) – 7/10 – Spooned a volley from close range wide to underline Liverpool’s dominance.
Virgil van Dijk (CB) – 7/10 – Locked in cruise control from the first whistle to last.
Kostas Tsimikas (LB) – 7/10 – Filled the sizeable shoes of the rested Andy Robertson with little fuss but a few frills.
Jordan Henderson (CM) – 8/10 – Unshackled from the base of midfield, Henderson bounded forward to act as a link in Liverpool‘s attacks.
Fabinho (CM) – 8/10 – Serenely patrolling the devilish pockets of space between the lines that have hurt Liverpool of late, Fabinho didn’t miss a step of his return.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) – 6/10 – Providing a sporadic driving force from midfield without setting the contest alight.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – 7/10 – Unusually kept off the scoresheet, Salah still spent much of the match toying with Atletico’s beleaguered rearguard.
Diogo Jota (ST) – 7/10 – Wasn’t afforded a single minute while on Atletico’s books but needed just 13 to find the net against his former side. May well have added to that tally in the subsequent seconds.
Sadio Mane (LW) – 8/10 – Involved in the thick of the action right from the off, Mane was spared the laser-focus of Atletico’s playing and coaching staff demanding a second yellow card with a half-time substitution.
Roberto Firmino (ST) – 5/10 – With the game already won, not nearly as involved as the goalscorer he replaced before being substituted himself.
Thiago Alcantara (CM) – 5/10 – Sloppy play set Atletico up for their biggest chance of the game.
Divock Origi (ST) – N/A
Takumi Minamino (CM) – N/A
Jan Oblak (GK) – 6/10 – Not forced into an abundance of work but kept the score respectable.
Felipe (CB) – 2/10 – May very well feel harshly treated for his red card but could have potentially escaped with yellow had he listened to the referee.
Jose Maria Gimenez (CB) – 4/10 – A stray, offside shoulder that chalked off Suarez’s effort was about as close as Gimenez got to denying a goal at either end.
Mario Hermoso (CB) – 4/10 – Mercilessly targeted by Liverpool’s fearsome right flank after an early yellow card but, unlike many of his other teammates, kept his head thereafter.
Kieran Trippier (RWB) – 4/10 – Aside from an early flurry, almost a non-entity going forward and left with a few bumps and bruises to remember an evening to forget.
Rodrigo de Paul (CM) – 4/10 – Struggled to exert any kind of influence on proceedings.
Koke (CM) – 4/10 – Bypassed time and again in a swamped midfield.
Yannick Carrasco (LWB) – 5/10 – Posed perhaps Atletico’s most potent threat going forward, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement on a blunt night all round.
Angel Correa (RW) – 4/10 – Squandered an early chance to pick out a teammate from a cleverly worked corner before Liverpool had ripped the game out of Atletico’s grip.
Luis Suarez (ST) – 4/10 – For a player whose every touch was booed, Suarez did illicit one of the loudest cheers when his second half volley was disallowed. Hooked inside an hour.
Joao Felix (LW) – 3/10 – The few times the fifth-most expensive player in history did touch the ball usually ended with Liverpool in possession.
Hector Herrera (CM) – 4/10 – Dragged a shot wide when afforded a rare sight of goal from a Liverpool slip up.
Renan Lodi (LB) – 5/10
Sime Vrsaljo (RB) – N/A
Javi Serrano (ST) – N/A