Liverpool went into the second leg of their Round of 16 tie against Atletico Madrid feeling pretty confident, despite the fact they were 1-0 down from the first leg over in Spain. The atmosphere of a European night at Anfield always sends shivers down the spine of the masses, but last night, it just wasn’t enough as Atletico brought an end to the reign of the Reds as European champions.
In what can only be described as one of the best Champions League games of the last 10 years, Liverpool went straight at Atletico from the word go. The Spaniards sat back, as we all knew they probably would, but the Reds were able to take the lead just before half time courtesy of Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal.
No happy ending this time
Jan Oblak put on an absolute masterclass throughout the entire 90 minutes to take it through to extra time, only for Roberto Firmino to strike and put Liverpool ahead on aggregate.
However, it all came crashing down in a crazy few minutes as substitute Marcos Llorente took advantage of an Adrian error to give Atletico the advantage on away goals. Then, Llorente scored again, with questions once again being asked of Alisson’s goalkeeping.
Alvaro Morata put the game on ice in the dying minutes of the game to ensure Liverpool went out and Atletico went through to the last eight.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had the following to say on the defeat.
“I am completely happy with the performance. It’s so difficult to play a side like this,” Klopp said, adding he was “searching for the right words”.
“I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter-attacks.
Thwarted by the dark arts
“We accept it, of course, but it doesn’t feel right tonight. I realise I am a really bad loser, especially when the boys put such an effort in against world-class players on the other side who defend with two rows of four.
“We know in the past two years we had some lucky moments in the Champions League – you have to to reach two finals – but today everything was against us in the decisive moments.”
The real focus now for Liverpool will be for them to go on and secure the Premier League title, but even with their commanding lead at the top of the table, there’s every chance that the coronavirus outbreak could prove to be the thorn in their side.
Atletico haven’t had the best of campaigns in La Liga, so if they’re still able to compete in the UCL pending a decision from UEFA about suspending the competition, they’ll be viewed as one of the favorites to win the whole thing.
We’re living in uncertain times right now and that much is obvious, but the one truth of the matter is that Liverpool’s title has been lost.
Now, we have to wait and see what the immediate future holds not just for these two teams, but for the rest of Europe and the world.