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Sport Gutsy Atletico given hope after surprise win over Liverpool

00:48  19 february  2020
00:48  19 february  2020 Source:   msn.com

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While Liverpool and Atletico seem set on divergent paths this season, there is much similarity in their recent history. Indeed, given their stature on Europe’s biggest stage over the past decade or so – including in Klopp’s previous role as Borussia Dortmund manager – it’s remarkable that Tuesday will

PETE JENSON IN SPAIN: Atletico Madrid have no hope of winning the league title and struggle to score. Atletico Madrid take on Liverpool in crucial Champions League last-16 tie. With their league title and domestic cup But given the situation, Simeone could turn to Costa to supply the firepower.

Liverpool were the victims of an old-fashioned Atletico Madrid masterclass on Tuesday as Diego Simeone's side ground out a 1-0 win in Madrid to give themselves hope of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.

a group of football players on a field: Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez (C) celebrates scoring an early goal against Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday.© PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez (C) celebrates scoring an early goal against Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday.

Saul Niguez raised the roof at a bouncing Wanda Metropolitano by scoring in the fourth minute before Atletico's defence kicked in, suffocating the European champions and denying them a single shot on target.

If Alvaro Morata had not slipped when given a good chance in the second half, Atleti might even have taken a two-goal lead to Anfield, where they can expect an onslaught next month.

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Yet even if Liverpool are still favourites to overturn this deficit and go through, the roar from the Atleti fans at the final whistle, aimed at their fist-pumping players on the pitch, suggested Simeone's team now believe.

Few had tipped them to keep this tie even alive for the second leg, let alone progress, given their own stuttering form while Liverpool, unbeaten in the Premier League, are gunning for a treble.

Jurgen Klopp said on Monday Atletico were a "results machine" but the temptation was to see his words as platitudes, not an accurate reflection of a side that sits 13 points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid and had already lost six times this season.

Yet Atletico under Simeone have also become synonymous with upsetting the odds, just as they did when winning the Spanish title in 2014 and then twice reaching the Champions League final.

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Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita made his first Premier League start since Boxing Day against Norwich City at the weekend, after overcoming the latest in a line of Sadio Mane’s return to fitness will give Klopp yet further options though, as he plots the defence of Liverpool ’s Champions League title.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp spoke of his respect for Diego Simeone ahead of a trip to the Pepe & Ceballos revive Champions League hopes . While facing Atletico away shapes as being tricky, the Wanda Metropolitano will bring back happy memories for Liverpool after their win over Tottenham in

For all their failings this season, they summoned that spirit here to produce the kind of performance full of tenacity, resilience and guts that was always going to be needed to give them any chance of success.

Simeone sprung a surprise by starting Thomas Lemar for the first time this year while Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa both returned from injury, the former from the start and the latter off the bench in the second half.

- Atletico snapping at heels -

Liverpool, who began with their expected eleven, have blitzed numerous opponents with explosive starts but they were the ones rocking early on as Atletico snapped at their heels, pressed hard and relished being first to every loose ball.

They took the lead, aided by a hint of fortune as Liverpool failed to clear the corner and the ball cannoned back off the foot of Fabinho for Saul to stab in from three yards.

On the sideline, Simeone beckoned his players to stay calm but they were celebrating in the corner while in the stands, the fans were delirious and given hope.

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Liverpool and Atletico Madrid will square off in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, with the first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano in Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, has won just one of its last seven matches in all competitions, struggling without injured strikers Joao Felix and Diego Costa.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp spoke of his respect for Diego Simeone ahead of a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano, saying he had a similar story to While facing Atletico away shapes as being tricky, the Wanda Metropolitano will bring back happy memories for Liverpool after their win over Tottenham in

Atletico were given a lead to defend and the rest of the half was largely a picture of Liverpool dominating the ball but failing to break down the 10 red and white shirts in front of them.

Their best chances fell to Mohamed Salah but he passed Jan Oblak's mishit clearance to the offside Firmino before sidefooting into an open net and then saw a deflected shot fly over.

Oblak's error came shortly after an equally unusual mistake from Virgil van Dijk, whose poor header might have proved costly, only for Morata to miss the chance from the angle.

Sadio Mane, on a yellow card, was replaced at half-time by Divock Origi while Lemar made way for the more conscientious Marcos Llorente.

Simeone could sense Liverpool's momentum and he responded by frantically flapping his arms to demand more support.

Salah drifted into space at the back post but headed wide and Atletico came through another spell of pressure unscathed. Morata should even have made it two but slipped when about to pull the tigger on Lodi's cut-back.

He was taken off with 20 minutes left, along with Salah, and Costa made his return shortly after to a wave of approval from the home support. The roar was even bigger when the final whistle blew.

Liverpool’s unbeaten season ends in blowout fashion .
Ismaila Sarr and Watford battered sorry Liverpool 3-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday to stop two key aims of the Reds' historic season.The impending Premier League champions will not go down in history as one of the England’s only unbeaten teams, and also fall short of setting a new record for consecutive league wins.

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