Liverpool drew level with Atletico Madrid in a match that was certainly a game of two halves.
Rafael Benitez returned to his home town for the much talked about fixture in the Champions League at the Vicente Calderon Stadium. And the game got off to a favourable start for Rafa’s men.
Without looking very dangerous, Liverpool looked calm in possession – maybe a bit too calm. But with 14 minutes gone Steven Gerrard slotted a nice through ball into Robbie Keane which seen the Liverpool forward strike his second in consecutive Champions League games. Robbie Keane had another chance on 23 minutes, which was probably easier to score than his goal, but unfortunately he opted for a showpiece flick with his back heel when he could have just side footed the ball into the net from a couple of yards out.
With Atletico Madrid playing at home in front of their loud faithful fans, it was inevitable that sooner or later they would try to get a grip on the game and pose more of a threat to Liverpool. And the warning signs were there just before the half time whistle. Diego Forlan tested Liverpools defence with a fizzed shot going just wide on 40 minutes.
The second half seen Atletico bring on their talented forward Sergio Aguero, which indicated their intentions. And no doubt, Atletico certainly stepped their game up in the second half which seen them play with more confidence which caused problems for Liverpool.
But Liverpool were disallowed a goal from Yossi Benayoun on 48 minutes for an offside – which replays would give cause for debate. 10 minutes later he was in the box with another chance but this time he took too long on the ball and the chance was gone.
Atletico went forward with intent in the second half and Liverpool looked a bit jaded. Atletico also had a goal ruled off side. And not long after, Pepe Reina pulled out an amazing save onto the post to deny Simao and keep Liverpool in the lead. If this was a sign that Liverpool should be more solid at the back with Atletico having their tails up, then it wasn’t noted. On 83 minutes Simao found himself on the edge of Liverpool’s penalty area with time to slot the ball into the corner of the net.
Ryan Babel had a late chance to win the game for Liverpool on 89 minutes, but under pressure his header went wide.
One or two decisions by the officials could have seen a win for either sides. But then there were also a couple of chances that should have been put away by Liverpool. But it wasn’t the worst result for the reds against possibly their biggest rivals in this group. And Liverpool go home being top of Group D.
Liverpool: Reina, Dossena, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa, Riera, Alonso, Mascherano, Benayoun, Gerrard (captain), Keane. Subs – Darby, Aurelio, Babel, Leiva, Cavalieri, Kuyt, Pennant
Atletico Madrid: Franco, Lopez (captain), Camacho, Perea, Seitaridis, Garcia, , Dominguez, , Sinama-Pongolle, Forlan. Subs – Bernabe, Garcia, Assuncao, Heitinga, Pernia, , Aguero
Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Den)
Post Match Comments
Robbie Keane on the game, his missed chance and how he felt a twinge his groin:
We dominated the first half and had a few chances. In the second half it was more difficult, they came back at us and got the goal.
Because of the way the game ended we have to be happy with a point and now we can look forward to playing them at Anfield.
It was windy and the ball was moving all over the place but no excuses, I should have scored.
It was a great ball from Stevie and I know I should have done better. It was just one of those things.
It’s a little bit sore but I don’t think it’s too bad and hopefully I’ll be okay for Sunday.
Rafa Benitez after the game:
We had control of the game in the first half and part of the second.
I’m disappointed because we had chances to kill the game. It’s problem when you have a situation on 83 minutes and you make a mistake, you pay for it.
For me we had plenty of situations in and around the box and should have made more of them. The entrance of Aguero gave more depth to their play and we defended worse.
If you’d said to me before game that we’d have seven points at the end of it then it would be good. But after winning up until 83 minutes and when you consider the chances we had, then I think we have lost two points.”
Keane and Gerrard and Alonso were tired, so we were trying to use players with fresh legs. We were trying to protect all of them by substituting them.
I don’t think they are serious. We will have to wait and see tomorrow.
It was a little bit of muscle problem for Robbie. Gerrard is okay. He was really tired and Alonso has a knock on his knee.
We need to check with Keane. He will see the doctor.