Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker and Jab Oblak impressed as Liverpool beat Atletico Madrid 3-2 to take firm control of Group B in the UEFA Champions League.
In what proved to be an open affair, the game started on an electrifying note as Liverpool grabbed a two-goal lead by the 13th minute. The opening goal came courtesy a piece of brilliance by Mohamed Salah, who danced his way past several Atletico Madrid defenders before scoring from the edge of the box.
Shortly after, Naby Keita double Liverpool’s advantage with a brilliant volley that curled away from Jan Oblak. Atletico Madrid, though, hit back with a couple of goals from Antoine Griezmann, whose second goal was crafted beautifully. Thereafter, it was an exhibition of goalkeeping masterclass, as both Oblak and Alisson Becker made top class saves to keep all three results possible.
Griezmann, though, saw red early in the second half for a dangerous challenge on Liverpool, who would then go on to break the deadlock again late on, as Salah scored from the spot after Mario Hermoso brought Diogo Jota down inside the Atletico Madrid box.
There was time for late drama as well, as the hosts were initially awarded a penalty after it seemed as if Jota had fouled Jose Maria Gimenez. However, upon a VAR recheck, the penalty call was rescinded and Liverpool ultimately held on to grab a crucial win. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sets of players.
Jan Oblak: 7/10
One of the Atletico Madrid players who can hold their head up high in defeat. Oblak made a number of world class saves to keep his team in the game, with the stops to deny Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain standing out. Could not have done anything to keep out any of the three Liverpool goals.
It was not a night for the defenders and Felipe was no different. His tame clearance landed straight on Naby Keita’s feet, with the Guinean unleashing a magnificent volley to score Liverpool’s second.
Geoffrey Kondogbia: 6/10
Deployed in the back three again, Kondogbia was slow off the blocks and should have done more to keep out Mohamed Salah’s long range strike. However, he seemed to be improving as the first half wore on before being taken off at the break.
Mario Hermoso: 5/10
A forgettable outing for Hermoso, who had his fair share of troubles against the inspired Salah. However, the kicker for him was the ridiculous challenge on Diogo Jota to concede the penalty from which Liverpool talisman Salah scored the winner.
Kieran Trippier: 6/10
An industrious display by Trippier, and he did not stop putting in the hard yards, winning each of his five ground duels while completing three tackles. Could have done better to contain Andrew Robertson at times, but gave his opposite number some troubles as well.
Rodrigo De Paul: 5/10
Rodrigo De Paul has not made the best of starts to his Atletico Madrid stint and this was another hit and miss performance by the Argentine. Needs to do more on the creative front, which is where the Colchoneros are lacking at the moment.
Koke got a strange assist for Antoine Griezmann’s first goal and it was a tricky effort to contain for Liverpool. Otherwise, though, it was a difficult outing for the Atletico Madrid captain, who just could not do enough to give his side the control they need to topple Liverpool.
Thomas Lemar: 7/10
The standout outfield player for Atletico Madrid, Lemar showed a lot of desire to make things happen, which is exactly what he did when he played around Naby Keita before Griezmann scored. However, his passing accuracy worsened as the game progressed, which took the pressure off of Liverpool.
Yannick Carrasco: 7/10
A bright spark on the left flank, Carrasco recovered well from a slow start before becoming a major outlet on the left flank for Atletico Madrid. His passing could have been better, but it came with the creative outlook. Put in the hard yards off the ball as well, winning six duels while completing three tackles.
Joao Felix: 7/10
Felix has shown signs of improvement early in the 2021/22 season and this was another convincing performance for the most part by the Portuguese prodigy. One of the brighter players for Atletico Madrid, the youngster did extremely well to set Griezmann up for his second goal. Did not see too many chances falling his way, though.
Antoine Griezmann: 7/10
All 3 of Antoine Griezmann goals for Atletico Madrid this season have come in the #UCL:
⚽️ vs. AC Milan
⚽️⚽️ vs. Liverpool
Puts his side level! ? pic.twitter.com/3zbGdwH6gr
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 19, 2021
Griezmann saw a lot happening around him in this match. The Barcelona loanee scored two superb goals, showing tremendous awareness to flick Koke’s shot past Alisson Becker before beating the Liverpool goalkeeper with a fine finish. However, his night was cut short early in the second half, when he was sent off for a dangerous foul on Roberto Firmino.
Jose Maria Gimenez: 6/10
On for Kondogbia at half-time, Gimenez was solid at the back for the most part, although he was not called into action too frequently. Seemed to have won a penalty after being fouled by Diogo Jota but was deemed to have gone down too easily by VAR.
Angel Correa: N/A
Correa did not come on the end of too many chances late on but should have done better when set up by former Liverpool talisman Luis Suarez.
Marcos Llorente: N/A
Introduced in place of De Paul, Llorente was a bundle of energy but could not inspire a late goal.
Renan Lodi: N/A
On late on for Hermoso, Lodi did not have enough time to make an impact, although it was his free-kick from which Gimenez appeared to have won a penalty before being denied by VAR.
Luis Suarez: N/A
On for Lemar, Suarez, who was the Player to Watch in our preview, could not do enough to inspire a late equaliser, although he did set up a decent enough chance for Correa in injury time.
Alisson Becker: 8/10
A brilliant display ?@Alissonbecker is your Player of the Match for #ATMLIV ? pic.twitter.com/qGMsroMZRZ
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 19, 2021
A big reason why Liverpool were in a position to win it late on, Alisson made a number of top class saves to ensure he did not have to pick the ball from his net more than twice. Could not have done anything to deny Barcelona loanee Antoine Griezmann for his goals, with the defenders selling him short.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 5/10
A wobbly performance by Alexander-Arnold, who saw Atletico Madrid target his side and succeed in overwhelming him, particularly in the first half. Had a lot of problems against Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Lemar, and the way he was bypassed for the second Atletico goal was ridiculous. Will hope to do better in the coming games.
Joel Matip: 5/10
Matip is enduring quite a pendulating season so far. After a strong showing against Watford, this was a game to forget for the Cameroonian, who did win seven of the eight duels he contested and completed 95 percent of his attempted passes but just could not left a lot of open spaces that were easily exploited. Has to get a grip on consistency.
Virgil van Dijk: 5/10
Early in the season, it has been clear that van Dijk has been nowhere near his best levels, with the knee injury still have some telling effects. More importantly, though, the Dutchman has struggled to keep the Liverpool backline organised for the most part, which was once again the case against Atletico Madrid. The introduction of Fabinho helped him, though.
Andrew Robertson: 6/10
The best of the Liverpool defenders, Robertson was not too troubled at the back, which is not something that can be said for the rest of his teammates at the back. Proved to be a reliable outlet on the left flank as well, playing as many as three key passes.
Naby Keita: 6/10
Naby Keita with a rocket of a volley! ?
Liverpool are dominating early on against Atletico as they take a two-goal lead inside the first 15 minutes! pic.twitter.com/Nwi8xtDycz
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 19, 2021
Quite an eventful game for Keita, who produced a wondrous volley to make it 2-0 in the 13th minute, showing impeccable control despite shooting from the outside of his foot. However, that was as good as it got for the Guinean midfielder, who endured a difficult duel against Thomas Lemar and was one of those at fault leading up to both the Atletico Madrid goals. Hooked off at half-time for Fabinho.
Jordan Henderson: 5/10
With Fabinho named among the substitutes, Henderson was deployed at the base of the Liverpool midfield again. However, the Reds’ captain just could not manage to keep things tight in the middle of the park after a strong start to the game, with Atletico Madrid deriving a fair bit of joy in midfield before the visitors took charge again. His precise passing bailed him out, though.
James Milner: 5/10
A surprise starter despite his heroics against Watford. Milner indeed looked increasingly fatigued as the game wore on and some of his decision making was suspect. Cannot be faulted for a lack of effort off the ball but his output on it was extremely disappointing.
Mohamed Salah: 8/10
There is just no stopping Salah at the moment, and the Liverpool talisman was in his elements once again on Tuesday. The Egyptian wizard handed the Reds the lead early on with some brilliant movement that opened up space for him to shoot. Sealed the narrow win with a nerveless penalty. Generally looked the most dangerous player again for Liverpool, who must hand him a renewal quickly.
The first player in our history to score in nine consecutive appearances for us ⚽️
? @MoSalah ? pic.twitter.com/Ht8kJkNLRu
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 19, 2021
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
Coming into the game on the back of scoring a fine hat-trick against Watford, Firmino was oozing confidence in the early exchanges. However, his influence waned as the game progressed, leaving Salah with a bit too much to do on his own. Griezmann was sent off after a dangerous challenge on his head early in the second half.
Sadio Mane: 5/10
Mane has been in fine form lately and by his own admission, he has put his struggles of last season behind him. However, this was a game to forget for the Senegalese forward, who was just not involved at all and spent much of his time on the pitch on the periphery of the game. A rare blip, going by his recent form.
On for Keita at half-time, Fabinho did extremely well to solidify things in the middle of the park, going a long way in keeping Atletico Madrid at bay, especially following Griezmann’s dismissal. That he retained a passing rate of 95 percent facilitated efficient ball-retention as well.
Diogo Jota: 6/10
Not too involved after replacing Mane, but Jota still ended up winning the match-winning penalty and made a telling difference in the end.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
On for Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain showed signs of improvement, and he even came close with an effort, only to be denied by the brilliant Oblak. Could be getting some starts soon.
Joe Gomez: N/A
Introduced late on in place of Alexander-Arnold, Gomez helped see the game out without much of a fuss.
Neco Williams: N/A
A late introduction, Williams helped see the game out.
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