In Depth

Welcome to Anfield, Atletico: Klopp is excited for second leg despite defeat in Madrid

Liverpool suffer rare loss and Haaland stars as Dortmund beat PSG

Champions League last-16 first leg  Atletico Madrid 1 Liverpool 0  

Liverpool experienced a rare losing feeling in Madrid last night as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Atletico in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash.

The Spanish side did to the Reds what they have done to the rest of the Premier League this year, pressing their opponents and then seizing on their mistakes. 

The error from Liverpool came on five minutes when their defence was caught ball-watching at a corner, allowing Saul Niguez to pounce for the only goal of the game.

Pain in Spain

So effective were Diego Simeone’s side in neutering their illustrious visitors (unbeaten in the Premier League since January 2019), that it wasn’t until 53 minutes that the Reds managed to get close to the Atletico goal. 

Even then Mohamed Salah headed wide, and the only other opportunity that came their way fell to Jordan Henderson, who hooked his shot wide.

Holders Liverpool have it all to do in the second leg at Anfield on 11 March but Jurgen Klopp struck an upbeat tone in assessing his side’s chances of overturning the first-leg deficit. 

“I am really looking forward to the second leg,” said the Reds manager. “It’s half-time and we’re 1-0 down. The second half will be played in our stadium and they will feel it.”

Power play

Despite his bullish tone, Klopp appeared to have been unsettled by the raucous crowd and the way Simeone orchestrated their emotions. 

“We speak from time to time about the power of Anfield and the power a stadium can have and tonight you saw that,” he said. “I’m not sure if Diego Simeone saw a lot of the game because he was continually animating the crowd.”

Klopp then conveyed a message to the Madrid faithful, a warning disguised as a welcome: “Atletico fans who can get a ticket... ‘welcome to Anfield’.”

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Dortmund 2 PSG 1: Hotshot Haaland

In last night’s other tie, Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on a night when Neymar was outshone by the brilliance of Erling Braut Haaland. 

The 19-year-old Norwegian scored both goals for the hosts, either side of an effort by Neymar for the French champions.

The result leaves the tie very much in the balance but the German outfit will fancy their chances in Paris next month if Haaland shows the same killer instincts in front of goal. 

The teenage sensation has scored an astonishing 39 goals in 29 appearances this season and team-mate Axel Witsel said of Haaland: “He still has huge room for improvement but he is on the road to becoming a truly great player.”

Born in England to father Alf-Inge, who played for Leeds and Manchester City, Haaland accepted his man-of-the-match award but then declared: “I feel like I still can do a lot better. I have to play better at this level, have to work hard to improve.”

Tonight’s round of 16 first-leg fixtures
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. RB Leipzig (8pm, live on BT Sport 2) 
  • Atalanta vs. Valencia (8pm, live on BT Sport 3) 

Today’s back pages

Klopp’s Liverpool get a Spanish lesson and Spurs are hit by Son injury setback

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