Reds secure Champions League last-16 spot with Anfield win over Atletico

Match reportReds secure Champions League last-16 spot with Anfield win over Atletico

Published 3rd November 2021

Liverpool secured passage to the knockout rounds of the Champions League with a 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday evening.

Diogo Jota's header opened the scoring in the contest after 13 minutes and Sadio Mane followed it up eight minutes later with a reactive finish inside the box. 

The visitors then had Felipe sent off towards the end of the first half as Jürgen Klopp's men went on to confirm their status as Group B winners, with two fixtures remaining.

Team news 

Fabinho returned to the XI after a three-match absence through injury and was among five changes for the evening. 

The others saw Kostas Tsimikas, Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jota handed starting berths.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Salah, Jota.

Subs: Adrian, Kelleher, Konate, Thiago, Firmino, Minamino, Robertson, Origi, Phillips, Williams, Morton.

First half

It was a fairly even start to the contest, unlocked by some patient play from Liverpool down the right flank.

Jordan Henderson rolled the ball to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who sent a whipped, first-time cross into the penalty area. And there to meet the ball on the edge of the six-yard box was the head of Jota, making it 1-0.  

More delivery from the Reds' right-sided full-back produced the second. 

Mane brushed off a number of Atletico defenders on a run as the ball made its way towards the right-hand side once again. 

From there, Alexander-Arnold fired at goal from distance, though Mane intercepted the shot inside the box and redirected it into the back of the net. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain nearly made it 3-0 a minute later but was inches off target with his drilled effort. 

It then got worse for the visitors when Felipe was dismissed following a cynical foul on Mane. Quickly looking to capitalise on the one-man advantage, Mohamed Salah and Jota were denied by smart saves from Jan Oblak in the visitors' net. 

Second half

A half-time substitution saw Mane replaced by Roberto Firmino.

Three minutes into the second period, Jota thought he had netted his second and the Reds' third. 

The No.20 calmly slotted past Oblak from Matip's brilliant threaded pass, but a VAR review chalked the goal off for offside. 

It continued to be all Liverpool. A charging run from Salah ended with a save from Oblak and vital clearance from Rodrigo De Paul to stop Jota converting the rebound. From the resulting corner kick, Matip sliced a shot wide.

Jota then didn't connect properly with Tsimikas' fine cross as he watched the ball drift just past the wrong side of the post.

Atletico believed they had pulled one back when Luis Suarez's effort from distance deflected off Matip and wrong-footed Alisson Becker. But again, VAR ruled it out for offside in the build-up. 

The visitors showed they were still a danger with 10 men when they launched a threatening counter-attack, which ended with a tame shot from Hector Herrera. 

Liverpool continued to dominate proceedings but couldn't add the third goal. Regardless, following the draw between AC Milan and FC Porto a few hours earlier, the win secured top spot in the group.

Published 3rd November 2021