Atlético Madrid edges Liverpool 1-0 in Champions League
Atlético Madrid's defense was back at its best on Feb. 18, too good even for the European champions.
Atlético Madrid scored early and then defended superbly to beat Liverpool 1-0 in the first leg of the Champions League's round of 16 on Tuesday, spoiling the defending champion's return to the place where it won the European title last year.
Midfielder Saúl Ñíguez netted in the fourth minute and Atlético's defense kept Liverpool's powerful attack from having a single attempt on target, giving Diego Simeone's team the edge going into the second leg on March 11 in England.
"The concentration level of the Atlético defense was exceptional today," Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp said. "I'm not disappointed with how we played. We were not good enough in the last third."
It was at Atlético's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium that Liverpool defeated Tottenham 2-0 last June to lift its sixth European Cup trophy. Tuesday's lineup was nearly identical for Liverpool, with defender Joe Gomez the only player who did not start in last year's final.
"It's not the best night ever because we didn't win a trophy," Simeone said. "But there are nights you don't forget. The best team in the world came here and we beat them. But it's only one game. We still have one to go."
Enduring one of its worst stretches under Simeone, Atléticocame in as a heavy underdog against the thriving European champions, who had not lost a game in any competition in 2020.
Liverpool controlled possession throughout but couldn't find a way to break through the tight Atlético defense.
It was only the second time that Liverpool failed to have an attempt on target under Klopp — the other coming in a 1-0 Champions League loss against Napoli in 2018.
"We had the...