It has been a tough couple of weeks for Jürgen Klopp and his Liverpool club. The reigning Champions League holders were closing in on breaking the record of games won in a row after staying unbeaten in the Premier League for way over a year. First Atletico Madrid stood strong at home, beating Liverpool 1-0 in the UCL 1st knockout stage fixture and then relegation candidates Watford handed them a humbling 3-0 defeat to cut their winning and unbeaten stretch short. To add insult to injury, Chelsea sent Liverpool packing in FA Cup round of 16 by taking the victory at Stamford Bridge 2-0. Liverpool’s amazing season started to crumble, but there was still a chance to save it in the home fixture against Atletico – as well as securing the Premier League title after 30 years.
Atletico had fought tirelessly, as usual, in their home game, taking the 1-0 win to Anfield. The affair between the clubs was much as expected, Liverpool running the show but Atletico standing strong and hitting back ferociously. Liverpool created a plethora of chances, but Atletico’s goalkeeper Jan Oblak had a night to remember, saving a clear cut chance after another. Gini Wijnaldum took the hosts 1-0 up to finish the first quarter and making the aggregate 1-1. That remained the score after the 90 minutes, with Oblak making tremendous 10 saves, while Adrian in the other end survived with two.
The commencing overtime was quite a contrast to the regular time. It took only four minutes for Roberto Firmino to score the go-ahead goal for the home team and it all looked swell for the reigning champs. But one can never count Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid out. The most unusual of heroes rose to the occasion, as midfielder turned forward upon arrival from Real Madrid, Marcos Llorente, scored twice within 10 minutes to finish the first half of the extra time 2-2, with Atletico gaining the lead due to away goals. Suddenly Liverpool found themselves in a world of trouble, having to score at least two more than their opponents in 15 minutes. As expected Atletico had none of that. Defending relentlessly the visitors held the fort, not necessarily graciously, but efficiently. Alvaro Morata then finished the home team off with 2-3 go-ahead goal at the final whisle.
Liverpool’s defending of the title was a short-lived effort, but their route towards the domestic title continues. The ongoing epidemic of corona virus puts the whole season to jeopardy, but for now the games continue as planned. Liverpool will face local rivals Everton at Goodison Park on 16th of March, while Atletico Madrid will continue to quarter-finals of the Champions League while their domestic La Liga is suspended for the time being.