Canindia News

Holders Liverpool stunned by Atletico, out of Champions League

Liverpool, March 12 (IANS) Atletico Madrid benefited from a brilliant performance in goal by Jan Oblak — and mistakes by Liverpool keeper Adrian — to defeat the Champions League holders 3-2 (4-2 on aggregate) and advance to the quarterfinals.

The Reds were leading 2-0 (2-1) in the first extra time on Wednesday night when Adrian botched a clearance and Atleti’s Marcos Llorente scored to turn the tie on its head, reports Efe news.

The away goal put the Colchoneros in the driver’s seat, but Llorente, a late sub, victimised Adrian again at the end of the first extra time, all but shutting the door even for a team with the talent Liverpool has.

Atletico had the first chance of the night under a steady rain at Anfield, as Joao Felix filtered the ball behind the Liverpool defence to Diego Costa, whose shot went wide.

Aside from an effort by Felipe that grazed the near post, the remainder of the first half was all Liverpool.

Though the Reds, who ended the contest with 72 per cent possession, had to work hard for their chances, Oblak was tested by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sadio Mane (twice) and Roberto Firmino, while Mohamed Salah sent a shot over the cross-bar.

As half-time approached, Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered a fine cross to Georginio Wijnaldum, whose header bounced off the pitch and into the Atletico net to level the tie at 1-1.

The hosts started the second half with a relentless onslaught and Oblak did well in the 54th minute to deny Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Felix interrupted the Reds’ monologue with an ambitious play on the counter that forced Adrian to come off his line to snatch the ball away from the onrushing Angel Correa.

Liverpool’s Andy Robertson inexplicably hit the cross-bar on a golden chance in the 67th minute before Oblak thwarted Trent Alexander-Arnold and both Mane and Salah missed the mark.

With the match clock closing in on 90 minutes, Alexander-Arnold fouled Felix and Atleti won a free-kick.

Renan Lodi’s found Saul Ñiguez unmarked and the midfielder scored. But the offside flag went up and the goal was disallowed, sending the contest to extra time.

Four minutes in, Firmino headed into the cross-bar, but the ball ended up at his feet and he hammered home to put the home side up 2-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.

The joy of the Anfield crowd was cut short in the 97th minute with Adrian’s fatal blunder and the keeper — playing for injured starter Alisson — must also share blame for Llorente’s second goal.

Atletico’s Alvaro Morata scored in the final seconds to add additional sting to Liverpool’s first home defeat in 18 months.

–IANS

aak/dpb

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