Atletico Madrid on Tuesday stunned defending champions Liverpool 1-0 in the first leg of the round of 16 of Champions League.
The Mattress Makers defied all the predictions made before the match by taking an early lead, 4th minute to be precise, and then restricting the Premier League table-toppers from scoring in the following time span.
Central midfielder Saul Niguez drew the only blood of the match as the crowd at the Wanda Metropolitano was on its feet to acknowledge the importance of it. Following the goal, Atletico’s defence kicked in and suffocated the European champions by denying them a single shot on target.
Facing Liverpool, who lead the Premier League by 25 points with 12 games to play and are having a season for the ages, the Colchoneros looked more like the side that reached the Champions League final twice in two years than the one now scrapping to hang on to fourth place in La Liga.
Koke’s corner kick got deflected off the leg of Reds midfielder Fabinho directly to Niguez, who pushed the ball across the line with keeper Alisson too far away to do anything.
Though Jurgen Klopp’s men held 73% possession of the ball, Atleti continued to threaten them.
Liverpool got seconds of respite when Mohamed Salah fired into an unguarded net following a botched clearance by Atleti keeper Jan Oblak with Roberto Firmino’s touch on the ball. But Firmino being adjudged offside, the goal was disallowed.
The Reds started pushing for an equaliser with some added vigour this time, but a good defence saw Atletico move to the second leg with a one-goal lead.
However, the dream is still midway for the Diego Simeone’s men as the real test is yet to come on March 11 when they will be facing the same opponent in the second leg in their own backyard – Anfield.