Liverpool produced a spirited display as they aimed for the Champions League quarter-finals, but were let down by a shocker from Adrian, losing 3-2 to Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool 2-3 Atletico Madrid (2-4 agg)
Champions League Last 16, Anfield
March 11, 2020
Goals: Wijnaldum 43′, Firmino 90+4′; Llorente 90+6′, 105′, Morata 120′
Adrian – 2 (out of 10)
Genuinely appalling. Andy Lonergan time?
The only argument in Adrian‘s favour is that he could not have expected to play these high-profile games when he signed…but what other motivation is there?
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
Having been one of those to particularly struggled in the first leg, the onus was on Alexander-Arnold to respond and he did, with a big challenge on Felix early on reminding referee Danny Makkelie to keep a lid on the theatrics.
His delivery was invariably strong, and his decision-making was top-class, but it was ultimately not enough for Liverpool.
Joe Gomez – 6
Given he has been at the club since 2015, it has taken him time to reach this milestone, but it is applaudable nonetheless that Gomez has reached 100 appearances for Liverpool at just 22—more so given his injury history.
It was a largely quiet game alongside Virgil van Dijk then let down by a drop in concentration late on that allowed Llorente to turn it around.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
What was he doing for Llorente’s second? Way, way too casual, as has been the case too often recently, and undermined a comfortable first 90 minutes.
Went up front late on, but could do little to influence the result.
Andy Robertson – 7
On his 26th birthday, Robertson nearly got himself and Liverpool the perfect gift when he steamrollered in to head against the bar, but Kieran Trippier did well to put pressure on him.
Offered an outlet consistently, and hammered into challenges with the vigour required on such a night.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Restored to the side out of near-necessity given his pre-injury form and on-field leadership, Henderson roared the Reds through a tense battle all over the pitch.
Faded as the game went on but was still on hand to press and keep the ball moving.
Gini Wijnaldum – 9
Gini loves a header in a big game against a Spanish side.
Other than that, Wijnaldum was everywhere; the linchpin of Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield who set the tone in terms of pressing, with his industry tracking back and doubling up keeping the intensity high.
Another big-game performance from the Dutchman, unfortunately let down by the ‘keeper.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 9
It was a big show of faith to start Ox over either Fabinho or James Milner, and it paid off handsomely, with the No. 15 producing a front-footed, hallmark performance in the advanced role in midfield.
He keep Liverpool moving quickly, was incisive with his passing, intelligent with his movement—shifting left, right and centre—and tested Jan Oblak with a series of increasingly accurate long-rangers.
His defining moment was the perseverance and inch-perfect cross for Gini’s opener, and it was disappointing to see him brought off with 10 minutes of normal time to play.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Like in the first leg, Salah was very busy throughout as he pulsed around the penalty area, and enjoyed his running battle with Renan Lodi, with the Brazilian given less leeway from the referee this time around.
His finishing was wayward, and though Oblak was excellent throughout he should have done better with at least one of his shots cutting onto his left.
Sadio Mane – 7
Mane was targeted and frustrated at the Wanda Metropolitano, but motivated and invigorated at Anfield, and as the game wore on he found more and more space to drive at Trippier and cause problems.
Was heavily involved throughout, and almost scored a spectacular winner in normal time with his overhead kick late on.
Roberto Firmino – 7
Took a long time to get into the game, with his touch letting him down on a number of occasions—when the ball into his feet wasn’t overhit—and his slack layoffs allowing Atletico defenders to hoof clear.
Did grow more confident, though, and was able to dovetail with Salah and Ox with more precision.
Though he benefited from a measure of luck with his extra-time strike it was a marker of his commitment.
James Milner (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 82′) – 6
Allowed Gini to take the attacking reins in midfield with Ox going off, and kept momentum as he bounded into tackles and moved the ball well on the overlap. But to no avail.
Fabinho (on for Henderson, 106′) – N/A
Divock Origi (on for Wijnaldum, 106′) – N/A
Takumi Minamino (on for Firmino, 114′) – N/A
Subs not used: Lonergan, Matip, Lallana
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Laid the groundwork with his message pre-match, and both players and crowd were right up for the game as a result.
The decision to start Ox allowed Liverpool to get the foothold and pin Atletico back into areas even they weren’t comfortable in, and he was right to leave it as late as he did to make any changes in normal time.
Could not have legislated for Adrian‘s costly error, particularly with Lonergan his only alternative with Alisson out…