Monday 23 October 2017

Weakened Liverpool fall to Atletico in final shoot-out

Liverpool 1 Athletico Madrid 1

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson misses a penalty during the shootout. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson misses a penalty during the shootout. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder

Chris Bascombe

The Audi Cup was settled by a penalty shoot-out in Germany as Liverpool were beaten by Atletico Madrid on spot-kicks.

Not for the first time during the reign of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have discovered La Liga to be rather more formidable than the Bundesliga.

Liverpool's Divock Origi goes down in the box resulting in a penalty. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder
Liverpool's Divock Origi goes down in the box resulting in a penalty. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder

Victories over Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich were highlights of the past week, but Atletico proved a test too far for a much weakened line-up.

And it was not so long ago Klopp's side were dispatching Augsburg and Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League, only to succumb to Sevilla.

Evidently the Spanish are more adept at recognising and nullifying Klopp's plans, although Liverpool did well to stretch the contest so far.

This was a different Liverpool to the one who took on Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena 24 hours earlier, Klopp making nine changes and resting Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino in action with Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino in action with Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder

Daniel Sturridge, who would have started, was left out as he waits to learn if he needs a scan on the thigh injury he picked up on Tuesday.

Streetwise

Youngsters Dominic Solanke, Joe Gomez and Ben Woodburn were given further experience against one of the most streetwise sides in Europe and they will consider this a tough education. Every time a Liverpool player had the ball they were rapidly surrounded, and there was no space to exploit.

They enjoyed some early moments of encouragement, especially when Woodburn crossed the ball for Solanke's flicked header on 11 minutes.

But in line with what Liverpool can expect frequently on domestic duty, Atletico sat back and waited for their opportunity, which duly arrived on 33 minutes.

James Millner, right, of Liverpool and Sime Vrsaljko of Madrid both miss a header. Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP
James Millner, right, of Liverpool and Sime Vrsaljko of Madrid both miss a header. Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP

Sime Vrsaljko's cross was met by Angel Correa and produced a superb reflex save from Danny Ward, the third-choice keeper. Keidi Bare headed in the rebound.

Although Sadio Mané demonstrated his return with some excellent touches, Liverpool were blunt without their more formidable attacking pairings.

Klopp made numerous changes at half-time, introducing Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and new signing Andy Robertson.

The game was petering out until Divock Origi was tripped with seven minutes to go and Firmino struck a penalty home.

In the shoot-out, Jordan Henderson's miss proved decisive and Filipe Luiz stroked home the winner.

Liverpool's Dominic Solanke in action with Atletico Madrid's Lucas Hernandez. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder
Liverpool's Dominic Solanke in action with Atletico Madrid's Lucas Hernandez. Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder

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