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Opinion: Adrian is not the only one to blame for Liverpool's exit | Champions League 2019-20

Liverpool players walk-off in dejection as Atletico Madrid beat them at Anfield 2-3
Liverpool players walk-off in dejection as Atletico Madrid beat them at Anfield 2-3
Modified 12 Mar 2020

Defending champions Liverpool FC crashed out of the UEFA Champions League post a 2-3 defeat inflicted to them by Spanish side Atlético Madrid in the second leg of their round of 16 clash at Anfield on Wednesday. The first leg too was won by Atlético 1-0 and the aggregate score of 4-2 means that there will be a new European champion this year. Jürgen Klopp's men were dominant throughout the game and Atlético's manager Diego Simeone admitted in the post-match press conference that the Reds were extremely unlucky to miss out on the quarter-final berth.

Liverpool had 71% of the possession and recorded 712 accurate passes as compared to Atlético's measly 215 but when it mattered the most, they could not hold their nerve. It has long been held that the Reds crumble under pressure and that is exactly what happened on Wednesday.

Defenders Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold could not keep their head as tragic drama unfolded late in the game at Anfield. Although goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo had a game he would like to forget in a hurry, as he was responsible for at least two of the goals scored by Atlético, the fair share of the blame must not be dumped upon him. Klopp admitted the mistake made by his shot-stopper cost Liverpool, but refused to blame the goalkeeper for their Champions League exit.

Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid's manager Diego Simeone is overcome with joy

The first goal scored by Atlético's substitute Marcos Llorente was a schoolboyish error made by Adrián as he failed to clear the ball and handed it straight back to João Felix, who passed it to the incoming Llorente. The second goal scored in 105th minute of added time, again by Llorente, came out of nowhere and it should have been stoppped early on. Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez were the last players to be dodged by Llorente before Adrián came in plain view and they should have done a better job at protecting their goalkeeper.

The third goal at very brink of extra time (120 minutes), scored by on-loan Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, beat Adrián from a far distance again but by then Liverpool had imploded and given in to the nerve and enormity of the situation. It didn't help that they hadn't been in such a situation anytime this season and therefore, quite simply did not know how to react.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah could not convert any of the opportunities that fell to him

Liverpool should have finished the game off much earlier as they dominated the game from first minute to the last. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Andrew Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had all been presented with numerous opportunities by their teammates to get on the scoresheet but their final efforts didn't pierce the net, guarded by player of the match Jan Oblak. If they had converted those chances earlier, then Liverpool wouldn't have had to rue crashing out of the Champions League. Indeed goalkeeper Adrián's performance was below par, but Liverpool have to take the blame collectively for this loss.

Published 12 Mar 2020, 11:55 IST
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