An early strike from Saul Niguez gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over holders Liverpool in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Wanda Metropolitano.
Atletico had won just one of their last seven matches ahead of this tie, but they took the game to Liverpool from the off and opened the scoring through Saul’s fourth-minute strike.
Returning to the scene of their magical sixth European Cup triumph in June, the visitors dominated possession but failed to register a single attempt on target in response.
Just a third defeat in all competitions this season leaves Jurgen Klopp’s men with it all to do in the return fixture at Anfield on March 11.
Koke’s set-piece delivery bounced off Fabinho and squirmed through for Saul, who stabbed the ball past Alisson from point-blank range to give Atletico an early lead.
Atleti pushed for a second goal and an error from Virgil van Dijk gifted Alvaro Morata a free shot from a tight angle, but Alisson was equal to the low attempt.
Liverpool took time to grow into the contest and had the ball in the net through Mohamed Salah after 26 minutes, only for Roberto Firmino to be flagged for offside in the build-up.
Salah flashed a header wide from Liverpool’s next big chance eight minutes into the second half as the hosts continued to withstand the pressure.
Jordan Henderson guided a first-time effort just wide before limping off injured in the final 10 minutes as the reigning champions were left frustrated on their return to Madrid.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 6, Vrsaljko 6, Felipe 7, Savic 6, Renan Lodi 8, Saul 8.5, Koke 7, Thomas 7, Lemar 6 (Llorente 46), Morata 6.5 (Vitolo 69), Correa 5.5 (Costa 76).
Subs not used: Adan, Gimenez, Carrasco, Hermoso.
Goals: Saul 4
Manager: Diego Simeone 8
Liverpool: Alisson 6, Alexander-Arnold 6, Gomez 7, van Dijk 6, Robertson 7, Henderson 6 (Milner 79), Fabinho 6, Wijnaldum 6, Salah 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 71), Firmino 6.5, Mane 6 (Origi 46).
Subs not used: Keita, Adrian, Minamino, Matip.
Bookings: Mane, Gomez
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland) 8