A tale of contrasting goalkeepers sealed a dramatic 3-2 second-leg win for Atlético Madrid against Liverpool, in the Champions League Round of 16.

It is the last line of defence, and these days the starting point of the attack. The goalkeeper more often than not has the spotlight when things go bad, whilst also taking the plaudits when he saves his team.

The latter was certainly the case for Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak, who kept his teammates in the game before they turned the screw on defending champions Liverpool, at Anfield of all places.

Looking to correct their 1-nil deficit from the first leg, the Anfield crowd did its part and the Liverpool players kept the intensity going, with Gini Wijnaldum placing a downward header to add to his list of big-game goals.

Meanwhile, Oblak was magnificent in Atleti’s goal facing 11 shots on target and saving nine. Embodying the resilience and character of Simeone’s Atleti side, the Slovenian almost single-handedly kept his side in the game.

🙌 Jan the Man – you were sensational tonight.

Oblak has been named #UCLMOTM after his extraordinary display. Congratulations! 👏

#UCL | 🔴⚪ #AúpaAtleti

— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) March 11, 2020

The Reds did clinch their second goal early in extra time.

Adrián, however, in for the injured Alisson between the posts, would deny all their hard work with a wayward pass that betrayed his experience. 

Adrian conceded thrice – after Liverpool were two up – in extra time. (Action Images via Reuters)

The Spaniard gifted João Félix who would then pass to Marcos Llorente to deliver a finish that arguably should have been saved. 

Adrián was lethargic, being beaten by Llorente’s well-taken second albeit to his near-post, then tamely allowing Álvaro Morata’s left-footed clincher in the final minute of extra time.
 Liverpool’s goalkeepers have made more errors leading to goals than any other team since the 2017/2018 Champions League season, by both Adrían and Loris Karius.

Nevertheless, it was another tactical masterclass in Simeone’s cap, as his side kept the Champions’ 34 shots and 62 crosses at bay, many thanks to Oblak. The Argentine’s gameplan worked to a tee as his substitutes provided the three goals that won the game in extra time.

Unlikely goalscorer Marcos Llorente had a field day of finishing practice against Adrian. (Getty Images)

These are the small details that matter in top-class football. Liverpool’s own The Best FIFA goalkeeper of 2019, Alisson was absent to produce crucial saves for the Reds. The Brazilian’s saves were instrumental in their Champions League-winning campaign -particularly in the final- and they terribly missed his assuring influence, where Oblak was key for Atleti last night.

The painful defeat is Jürgen Klopp’s first European loss at Anfield, Liverpool’s first defeat in Europe at home since 2014, and a first home loss in 42 games, dating back September 2018.

Triumphant Diego Simeone runs to the away support after Atleti’s winner. (Action Images via Reuters)
Having seen all their unbeaten records anti-climax into ‘only’ a first Premier League title in 30 years. Klopp knows he has to thicken his squad with quality, starting with his second goalkeeper. Indeed, that’s the next level required to reach invincible status which they threatened for so long this season.

“It’s like Barcelona who have Messi,” Simeone said. “He decides games with his attacking play; Oblak resolves them with his saves”.

Whilst Liverpool have theirs in Alisson, his understudy could only put in a mere mortal’s performance.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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