Liverpool’s Champions League exploits this season have not been short on drama. After three games in Group B, Jürgen Klopp’s side have scored 11 goals, conceded five, but crucially have collected maximum points. It’s been lively, but Liverpool have got the job done on all three occasions to set themselves up nicely for the remaining trio of fixtures.
The latest Champions League night was the craziest of the lot. Liverpool headed to the Wanda Metropolitano to face Atlético Madrid with mixed memories of the Spanish venue. In 2019, they lifted the Champions League trophy there. The following season, they suffered an abject 1-0 defeat to Atlético in the last 16, which ultimately contributed to them crashing out of the tournament prematurely as title holders.
Things started brightly this time around. Mohamed Salah’s shot found a way into the net with less than eight minutes played before Naby Keïta’s superb volley left Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak with no chance. Liverpool were 2-0 up and cruising, with the home side unable to gain a foothold.
But a side of Atlético Madrid’s quality were never likely to stay quiet for long. In the blink of an eye, the scores were levelled through an Antoine Griezmann brace. The first saw the Frenchman get on the end of Koke’s drilled effort to divert the ball past Alisson, while the second saw him latch on to a through ball and power it past the Brazilian goalkeeper once again.
From there, it looked like the Spanish side had the momentum, with the betting exchange odds swinging either way. The second half started at a furious pace, and Yannick Carrasco squandered a great opportunity to give the hosts the lead, Alisson thwarting him with a brave block.
The momentum shifted again in the 52nd minute. Griezmann attempted to latch on to a high ball, but inadvertently planted his studs on Roberto Firmino’s head. The red card was brandished, Atlético were down to 10 men, and suddenly it was backs to the wall for Diego Simeone’s side.
Liverpool huffed and puffed but couldn’t break Atlético down, until they were gifted a penalty with less than 15 minutes to go. A clumsy foul on Diogo Jota by Mario Hermoso gave Salah the chance to step up and fire Liverpool into the lead once again.
The penalty drama didn’t stop there though. Jota was then penalised for brushing against Jose Maria Gimenez, but after examining the VAR monitor, the referee then reversed his decision, and Atlético were denied a route back into the match. There was to be no further comeback, and Liverpool escaped Madrid with all three points.
It was a breathless match, and the second occasion in this Champions League group where Liverpool won 3-2. Nonetheless, Klopp will be delighted that his team have picked up maximum points from the first three matches in a very difficult group. Liverpool have often made hard work of the group stage, but they are now firmly in the driving seat to advance as winners.