By Chris Hatherall
Chris Hatterhall looks at what we learned as Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League.
Adrian is a ticking time bomb
It may feel harsh to say it, but Adrian’s mistake which handed Atletico Madrid a crucial goal in extra-time was always hiding in the wings.
Not because the Spaniards were creating chances but because the Liverpool man has history.
If there is a weakness in this Liverpool squad it comes in the goalkeeping back-up department, and everyone knew it.
He gifted Danny Ings a goal in a 2-1 victory over Southampton last August, made another howler as Brighton’s Lewis Dunk scored at Anfield in November, and then fumbled Willian’s shot into his own net in an FA Cup defeat at Chelsea month.
So when he sent a clearance straight to Joao Felix, leading to Llorente’s first strike, it was heartbreaking – but not a major surprise. That, sadly, is the reality.
“When the ball goes to him, you’re worried,” admitted Liverpool legend Michael Owen. “He’s no Alilsson.”
Familiarity hasn’t built contempt
After a remarkable 400 games in Europe in their history – a record for British clubs – Liverpool fans have lost absolutely none of their passion for the occasion.
In a season when the Premier League is by far the priority, with Jurgen Klopp’s side ready to end a 30-year wait for the title, you could have forgiven the Kop for leaving a little at home against Atletico.
But the decibel levels were as a high as ever at Anfield and the determination to win the big-eared trophy – which many fans feel underpins the club’s mythical status – shone through despite the result.
In an era when Manchester City fans boo the Champions League anthem, that was wonderful to see.
Jan Oblak deserves higher profile
The Atletico Madrid goalkeeper, 27, is not the first name on a Fantasy Football teamsheet but his performance at Anfield puts him up there with the very best.
Without him, Atleti, who paid only €13m for him from Benfica, would have been dead and buried despite their legendary defensive organisation.
The Slovenian made a seemingly never-ending run of saves to keep rampant Liverpool at bay and set the foundation for a stunning counter-attack triumph.
It may have been Llorente who scored the goals which put Atletico through, but it was their keeper who truly won it.
Wijnaldum is under-rated as a goalscorer
When it comes to Liverpool goalscorers the mind automatically turns to the holy trinity of Mane, Salah and Firmino, but in Wijnaldum Anfield has a hero who is willing to sacrifice his own attacking skills for the good of the team – and then dig deep to re-discover them when they are really needed.
The Dutch midfielder’s stunning header to open the scoring was only his fourth goal of the season, but you wonder how his stats would look if he played in a team which depended more on him more for goal power.
With Holland, for instance, he plays a more attacking role and has delivered seven goals this season on the international stage, including a hat-trick against Estonia.
He managed 14 for club and country in his final season at Newcastle some years ago – and then, of course, there was his legendary double against Barcelona last season which got Liverpool to the Champions League Final.
In a team full of heroes, he deserves his place.
Simeone is box office
The Atletico coach deserves huge credit for the organisation, concentration and defensive determination his team showed at Anfield against a side that created chance, after chance, after chance.
Every player in black gave every of energy they had for the cause, and that includes the manager, too.
Simeone’s legendary down-the-touchline goal celebration featured yet again in extra time and his side came from behind to level at 2-2, but he was a non-stop ball of energy himself on the touchline all match.
There was only one team playing attacking football, but Atletico’s managerial maestro played his part in the drama – and his team have to be admired.