Liverpool vs Atleti
Reds continue perfect start to Champions League with consecutive wins over Atletico Madrid
It was another scintillating Champions League contest as Liverpool hosted Atletico Madrid at Anfield. A victory for the home side would confirm their place in the knockout rounds of the competition. A win for Diego Simeone’s side would put some breathing space between them and the chasing pack, whilst simultaneously putting pressure on the Reds who had a perfect Champions League record this season heading into this one.
The early minutes were tense as both sides dealt with the crackling atmosphere inside the legendary stadium. The referee was busy as he had already handed out a yellow card to Mario Hermoso when the clock hit the ten-minute mark.
The first breakthrough would come from an inch-perfect cross by Trent Alexander Arnold as he found Diogo Jota when he whipped it into the 18-yard box. Jota made no mistake as he nodded it past Jan Oblak to give the home side the lead. Alexander-Arnold was at it again barely 5 minutes later when he found Sadio Mane at the end of a slick passing move. The Senegalese made no mistake, as he put it beyond Oblak to double the Reds’ lead and send the fans into pandemonium.
Atleti seemed to grab a foothold in the game, and the contest had evened up. That would all change when Felipe was shown a straight red card for violent conduct. It was a questionable decision and had EVERYBODY scratching their heads.
Talking on BT Sport ex-Premier League referee Peter Walton tried to explain the officials’ thinking in showing Felipe a red card:
"The ball is not in playing distance and he’s gone for Mane and just kicked him. The referee sees that and says hold on a moment let us just make sure. Felipe is going off, he knows he’s going to receive disciplinary action and the referee has given him every opportunity, calling him two or three times to come over, he doesn’t bother. He decided to blank the referee and use an insulting gesture towards the referee, not turning to face him and Danny Makkelie was very strong and showed him a straight red card which in law is correct."
The second half was nowhere near as exciting. There were two goals overturned by VAR as pantomime villain Luis Suarez scored following a wicked deflection, only for it to be chalked off for offside, and Diogo Jota thought he had scored a second before VAR intervened.
In all honesty, the red card killed the game. The Reds controlled proceedings professionally from that point and eased their way to victory. Inturn securing early qualification from the group, most experts were calling the ‘Group of Death’ when the draw was made at the start of the season. Liverpool players, fans, and officials will all be delighted with the result.
Trent Alexander-Arnold who starred at right-back had this to say in his post-match interview:
"It was an important one for us, Every game is important but we stuck to our game plan. We got those early goals. We have learned our lesson from Madrid when we were 2-0 up. We were able to see it through and dominate the game. We know what type of team they are. They like to suck you into their way of playing. They are a rough team but we kept to our plan. Moved the ball quickly and scored the two goals."
In other results in Europes' premier club competition, Real Madrid overcame a tricky Shakhtar 2-1 at the Bernabeu, Manchester City had no issues putting away Club Brugge at the Etihad 4-1 whilst Paris Saint Germain were held to a 2-2 draw by German side RB Leipzig despite two goals from Gini Wijnaldum.
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