Liverpool made it three wins from three in Champions League Group B after coming out on top of a thrilling encounter with Atletico Madrid.
At the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano it was clear early on that both sides were up for the occasion, and after the home side looked to attack from the off, it was Liverpool who were soon in the driving seat. Two early goals obliged the Spanish champions to get forward with urgency and the result was a pulsating, end-to-end spectacle.
By half time, the hosts were level and the game looked set to continue in the same frenetic spirit in the second before a controversial sending off for Antoine Griezmann changed the shape of the match. Liverpool were boosted by this, mentally as well as numerically, and began to take control, although Atleti to their credit continued to put up a good fight.
The second period was also marked by two penalties, one given and one not given by VAR. Liverpool made their man advantage count and edged the second half, taking the three points home with them thanks to Mohamed Salah‘s penalty.
Salah also got the opener, making personal and club history by scoring in his ninth consecutive game. Picking up the ball in an advanced position on the right, it didn’t seem like there was much on, but he danced by several defenders, working his way inside before getting a shot away which was deflected beyond Jan Oblak.
Before a quarter-of-an-hour had been played, Liverpool had a second thanks to a stunningly executed volley from Naby Keita. Atleti needed to respond and they did, seven minutes later.
Griezmann got his first by instinctively steering home Koke‘s shot, but there was a VAR check before the goal was given. There was a possible offside on Thomas Lemar but he was deemed not to have interfered with play, despite his proximity to Joel Matip.
In the 34th minute, the game was all square again and this time there were no arguments to be had. Joao Felix did terrifically well, evading a clutch of Liverpool players before releasing the ball to Griezmann, whose perfectly weighted first touch allowed him to shoot past Alisson with his second. An excellent goal and no less than Atleti deserved.
The second half saw more controversy as Griezmann was denied the chance to go in search of his hat-trick when he saw red for a dangerously high boot. The incident seemed entirely accidental and seemed to cause general surprise, but the French forward’s boot did make contact with Roberto Firmino‘s head.
After then, the game lost some of its intensity but remained fast paced give the circumstances. Liverpool gradually took control and had the better of the second period.
The two penalty incidents both involved Diogo Jota. First, in attack, he was needlessly brought down by Mario Hermoso in the 76th minute with the ball in the air, and Salah converted from the spot.
Five minutes later, the referee initially pointed to the spot after Jota appeared to have knocked down Jose Maria Gimenez, but after checking VAR the decision was overturned. Jota was perhaps a little clumsy, but it would have been soft.
An electric game and a massive win for Liverpool, who top the group with a perfect record. In two weeks’ time, they’ll welcome Atleti to Anfield as Diego Simeone‘s team look for revenge.