Atletico Madrid stymie Liverpool to win feisty opening leg
Pablo Morano/MB Media / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Liverpool were on the receiving end of a classic Atletico Madrid performance on Tuesday.

A fourth-minute goal from Saul Niguez, followed by over 86 minutes of typically resolute defending, helped Atleti claim a 1-0 win over the Champions League holders in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Despite having 67% of the ball at the Wanda Metropolitano, the Reds failed to muster a single shot on target for the first time all season. There were close calls for both Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson in the second half, but the former's header narrowly missed the post, while the latter's sweeping effort did the same.

When Liverpool did get into threatening positions, Diego Simeone's battle-hardened side collapsed inside the penalty area, getting a multitude of bodies in the way before scrambling the ball clear and getting back into defensive shape for the next wave of pressure.

It worked a treat. Liverpool managed only five attempts in total.

If anything, Atletico were unlucky not to take a more resounding lead into the second leg; Alvaro Morata had one clear-cut chance turned aside by Alisson in the first half before fluffing another golden opportunity in the second stanza.

The runaway Premier League leaders were frustrated all evening, to the point where Jurgen Klopp took Sadio Mane off at halftime, worried that he would be suckered into picking up a second yellow card.

"I was afraid his opponent would go down if Sadio took a deep breath," Klopp said after the match, according to the Telegraph's Chris Bascombe.

Liverpool, who had lost only two matches in all competitions prior to Tuesday's setback, will look to turn things around at Anfield on March 11.

Atletico Madrid stymie Liverpool to win feisty opening leg
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