Atletico Madrid beat Liverpool 5-4 on penalties (1-1 FT) to take home the Audi Cup, an absorbing tie which saw a packed Allianz Arena in Munich fully entertained.
Both teams made wholesale changes to their starting XIs from the teams that played in the semi-finals, with Atletico swapping all 11 players while Liverpool replaced nine, Sadio Mane and Emre Can the only survivors from their 3-0 thumping of hosts Bayern Munich.
As was the case in their tie against Bayern, Liverpool dominated the early exchanges and nearly opened the scoring when Adam Lallana’s cross set up Ben Woodburn, but the 17-year-old’s acrobatic volley was narrowly over the bar.
Summer signing Dominic Solanke was leading the line for the Reds but the former Chelsea striker was devoid of proper service as despite Liverpool enjoying a lot of possession, they were unable to fashion clear-cut chances in the first half.
For it was Atletico, who were to take the lead via a lightning-fast break. Sime Vrsaljko’s volleyed cross from the right was met by Angel Correa and while Liverpool keeper Danny Ward made a suburb save initially, Keidi Bare was at hand to head home the rebound in 12 minutes before the interval.
Jurgen Klopp made seven changes at half-time as he sought to get the momentum back, but it took a while before Liverpool were to find an equaliser and that too, via controversial circumstances.
Divock Origi, a 64th-minute introduction, theatrically fell inside the box after a slight touch from Gabi and referee Felix Brych pointed to the spot, much to the disbelief of the Rojiblancos.
Roberto Firmino, on at half-time, coolly sent Miguel Angel Moya the wrong way seven minutes from time and with neither side able to find a second goal, the tie went to a shoot-out.
Atletico’s big guns, Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres were on the pitch and made no mistakes from their opening penalties to give the Spanish side a 2-1 lead after Jordan Henderson effort was saved by Moya.
Origi, Ryan Kent and Marko Grujic converted theirs but so did Atletico’s players, with full-back Felipe Luis scoring the winning penalty to give Atletico their first trophy of pre-season.
The Rojiblancos have one final pre-season game left, a tie against newly-promoted Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday before their La Liga season kicks off with an away trip to Girona on August 19.
Liverpool have been in impressive form this summer and while they are no longer unbeaten, there are plenty of positives from their outings for Jurgen Klopp’s men. And after a final pre-season tie against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, they start their Premier League season on August 12, away to Watford.