Liverpool ensured qualification from the group stages of the Champions League with two games to spare, comfortably sweeping aside Atletico Madrid at Anfield.
Liverpool 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Champions League (4), Anfield
November 3, 2021
Jota 13’ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)
Mane 21’ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)
Sent off: Felipe (36′)
Jurgen Klopp made five changes to the Reds’ XI, bringing in Fabinho, Kostas Tsimikas, Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diogo Jota.
A lovely low cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold right across the six-yard box invited Diogo Jota to open the scoring in the 13th minute, with the Portuguese heading home.
And it was a repeat shortly after when Trent’s shot across goal was perfectly diverted in by Sadio Mane.
Liverpool’s right side was on fire and it was almost three within minutes when Oxlade-Chamberlain shot across goal from the edge of the box.
Not much for the less-than-200 travelling Atletico fans to cheer.
Salah was absolutely tormenting Atletico once again, with Hermoso booked early on. The Spaniards, much like in previous recent encounters, kicked lumps out of Mane in particular.
Finally, Atletico got what they deserved when Felipe was sent off for an extremely cynical swipe on the ankles of Mane before half time. ‘Adios adios adios’ waved Anfield.
Salah tested Jan Oblak and Jota headed at the keeper before the break.
HT: Liverpool 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Half time saw Roberto Firmino replace Mane, which was a sensible sub given how Atletico once again had kicked the Reds’ No.10 and seemed insistent on trying to get him sent off.
The Reds had the ball in the net early in the second half, Joel Matip stepping into midfield and playing in Jota to slot home his second of the night, but a VAR check ruled it out.
Salah should have scored soon after, denied by Oblak then Jota not able to hit home from close range, then Matip should’ve got himself on the scoresheet but hit wide off a corner. It was all very one-way traffic as the Reds attacked the Kop end.
Atletico thought they were back in the game when Luis Suarez’s shot deflected in off Matip before the hour, but VAR ruled that out too.
The former Red was replaced soon after to mostly boos and some applause.
An injury for Firmino was one negative on the night, replaced by Divock Origi late on.
The final 10 minutes saw Mo Salah on a personal mission to dance his way down the right and turn Atletico’s defence in circles, with the
If Liverpool felt like they owed Atletico after what happened in this match just before the pandemic, this result went some way to ensuring that.
The Spaniards left Anfield without a shot on target, but with four players booked and one sent off for violent conduct.
Meanwhile, the Reds have qualified from arguably the toughest group in this Champions League group stage – and, for the first time, with two games to spare. Incredible.
Next up: A trip to face high-flying West Ham on Sunday.
TIA Man of the Match: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Referee: Danny Makkelle (NED)
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Phillips 90+4′), Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho (Thiago 60′), Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Minamino 78′); Salah, Mane (Firmino 46′, Origi 78′), Jota
Subs not used: Adrian, Kelleher, Konate, Robertson, Williams, Morton
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Gimenez, Hermoso; Correa (Serrano 75′), De Paul, Koke (Cunha 69′), Carrasco (Vrsaljko 69′); Suarez (Herrera 59′), Joao Felix (Lodi 59′)
Subs not used: Lecomte, Iturbe, Gonzalez, Martin
Next match: West Ham (A) – Premier League – Sunday November 7, 4.30pm (GMT)