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Player Ratings: Saul Niguez shines in Champions League win but Van Dijk and Sadio Mane struggle

PLAYER RATINGS: Saul Niguez the star but Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane struggle as Liverpool beaten by Atletico Madrid in Champions League last-16 first leg

  • An early goal from Saul Niguez gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory over Liverpool
  • Liverpool were unable to find an equaliser despite dominating the possession
  • Jurgen Klopp’s side now face a battle to progress with the second leg at Anfield  

Atletico Madrid  will take a 1-0 lead to Anfield after becoming only the second team to defeat Jurgen Klopp’s side this season.

Saul Niguez gave the hosts the lead in the fourth minute and defended well to keep out a dominant Liverpool in the second half. 

Sportsmail’s Pete Jenson runs the rule over all the players from the clash at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium 

Saul Niguez gave the hosts the lead in the fourth minute as Atletico defeated Liverpool

ATLETICO MADRID (4-2-2)  

OBLAK – 6 – Surprisingly little to do in the first half. Rushed out of his goal early in the second half but was not punished.

VRSALJKO  – 6 – Got high up the pitch early on and then wrestled well with the threat of Mane as Liverpool took the initiative.

FELIPE  – 7 – The closest Atletico have to Van Djik. Headed clearance from Salah’s effort crucial in the first half.

SAVIC – 6 – Contained Liverpool well helped by the Atletico’s midfield giving the front three no space to play Used long ball well.

LODI – 8 – Simeone has taken him off in games so often this season most expected him on the bench. Responded briliantly to show of faith.

SAUL – 8.5 – Here, there, everywhere. Made the most of greater license to attack by scoring early goal. Never tired.

KOKE – 7 – Usual selfless display covering spaces and closing down so many of Liverpool’s possible routes to goal.

PARTEY – 7 – On-message with his tireless running but also dared for more with one brilliant through ball and shot from centre-circle.

LEMAR – 6 – Like Lodi, another who Simeone was tipped to leave out. Got Alexander-Arnold on the back foot when he could but replaced at half time.

MORATA – 6.5  – Won aerial duels, held the ball up, worked back, and threatened with pace. But missed vital chances and then hobbled off.

CORREA – 5.5 – Tired early and clattered Henderson to pick up first half booking. Never troubled Liverpool’s centre-backs.  

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3-3)

ALISSON 6 – Save from Morata in first half was vital in keeping Liverpool in the match.

ALEXANDER-ARNOLD 6 – Early crosses were wayward. Didn’t destroy the inexperienced Lodi as Atletico feared he might.

GOMEZ 7 – Great cross for Salah which the forward headed wide. Effective at the back but booked for foul on Morata.

VAN DJIK 6 – Strong at the back. Maybe a night when Liverpool needed him to do something special in the other penalty area too.

ROBERTSON 7 – Atletico were so scared of his forays they detailed Koke to track him. Still threatened and got back to put Morata off in key moment.

HENDERSON 6 – Talked up by Saul pre-match was probably second best to him in midfield battle. Hooked good chance just wide

FABINHO 6 – One of those guilty of starting slowly and culpable for the goal. Got up to speed and had Liverpool’s first shot.

WIJNALDUM 6 – Chasing red-and-white striped shirts early on but grew in importance

SALAH 6 – Tried to come deeper looking for space. Missed great chance early in the second half and was taken off on 70 minutes.

FIRMINO 6.5 – Atletico tried to swamp him every time he came deep looking to create something.

MANE 6 – A stray forearm cost him a first-half yellow and a less competent referee might have sent him off when he caught Vrsaljko again. 

REFEREE: Szymon Marciniak 8 – Imposed discipline without spoiling spectacle.

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