For the most part, Liverpool have looked immortal this season. The Reds have been in scintillating form all year and despite having their eyes firmly focused on the league, the possibility of back-to-back Champions League wins felt all too likely.
Despite their 1-0 loss during the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, Liverpool welcomed Atlético Madrid to Anfield feeling pretty confident they’d get the job done on home soil. After all, the Reds had shown incredible resolve all year long, and their comeback against Barcelona last year was fresh in the memory.
Going into what proved to be the final game for both sides before the coronavirus pandemic brought the footballing world to a halt, it felt almost inevitable that we were about to see another Liverpool comeback. Another magical European night for a club that had become famous for them. Another special performance in a season quickly shaping up to be one of the most memorable ever.
The game started the way many expected, with Georginio Wijnaldum scoring just before half time, leaving Liverpool fans confident they were well on their way to another Champions League quarter-final. And if it wasn’t for a breathtaking performance from Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak, they very well might have.
The Slovenian showed why he’s one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers with a sensational performance between the sticks. Oblak was called upon time and time again, with Liverpool throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him, but he stepped up to the occasion as the game headed to extra time.
Despite this, a Roberto Firmino goal four minutes into extra time put the Reds ahead for the first time in the tie and seemed to conclude yet another spectacular Liverpool performance in a year full of them. The Reds had come from behind to take down yet another European giant at Anfield – it felt all too familiar and was almost a formality. Atlético, however, must not have received the script.
Three minutes later, Marcos Llorente silenced Anfield when he made the most of a calamitous Adrian error to put his side back ahead on away goals. This lead to an onslaught from Liverpool who notched up an impressive 35 attempts on Atleti’s goal, but Diego Simeone’s men have become known for their defensive pedigree and it was clear to see why.
Llorente hit Liverpool on the counter just before the half time mark in extra time – the Reds now had a mountain to climb, needing two goals in the final 15 minutes.
But a last minute goal from Álvaro Morata ended Liverpool’s hopes of successive Champions League wins once and for all. Despite a dominant performance from the hosts, Atleti had managed to hold the Premier League leaders off and showed that, even on their best day, Liverpool were beatable.
While the Reds have become famous for their magical European nights, especially at Anfield, this night belonged to Atlético Madrid, and will go down in the club’s history as one of their finest results in the Champions League.