Holders Liverpool suffer narrow first-leg defeat to Atletico



Champions League holders Liverpool suffered a 1-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie in Spain on Tuesday evening.

In the very fourth minute of the match, Atleti grabbed the game’s deciding moment as Saul Niguez poked in at close quarters following a corner at Estadio Metropolitano.

Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - Atletico Madrid v Liverpool

The Reds, however, dominated possession throughout the remainder of the match, yet were unable to breach the hosts’ stubborn defence leaving the current the Premier League table-toppers with a big task to do in Anfield’s second leg in three weeks’ time in order to maintain the defence of their title.

“This is the result of hard work and what happens when you never stop believing but keep on going,” match-winner Saul told reporters.

“We have kept on working even though no-one believes in us and wants to bring us down. I celebrated the goal with so much passion because I was so up for the game, we have been criticised a lot but luckily I was able to help us out.”

After Saul’s decisive goal, Liverpool responded positively as they set about seizing control and probing for an equaliser.

Nevertheless, it took a crucial touch from Reds defender Andy Robertson to divert the ball away from Spanish striker Alvaro Morata on 20 minutes as the striker prepared to turn home Renan Lodi’s deep delivery at the back post.


The former Chelsea and Juventus man would threaten again soon after, with the Reds goalkeeper Alisson needing to thwart his near-post drive with a sprawling stop.

Mohamed Salah then dispatched the ball in the back of the home side’s net after pouncing upon Jan Oblak’s wayward kick before exchanging passes with Roberto Firmino, but the Brazilian was flagged offside.

The visitors continued to press after Robertson struck a right-footed effort wide of the upright from a central position and Fabinho smacked over from range.

Liverpool missed a series of chances to equalise in the second half, with Mohamed Salah and captain Jordan Henderson coming closest to scoring.

Salah was replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain as the visitors went agonisingly close to level terms as Jordan Henderson scooped Origi’s cross which went just inches wide of the base of Oblak’s post.

Jurgen Klopp’s side plays at home to Atletico on March 11 in the return leg at Anfield and still has the chance to progress to the quarter-finals.

“It was not exactly what should happen but it happened,” Klopp told BT Sport afterward.

“It was the fight we expected and the atmosphere we expected but I love so many parts of our game. It is only 1-0 down at halftime and the second half we play at our stadium.”