As it happened - Champions League: Saul goal gives Atleti 1-0 win over Liverpool

Follow the scores, updates and commentary of the Champions League Round-of-16 first leg clash between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.

Atletico's Angel Correa and Liverpool's Sadio Mane.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's blog of the Champions League Round-of-16 first leg match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool. This was Aashin Prasad with the updates.

 

That will be all from me for this match. We will back again with Tottenham vs RB Leipzig. Until then it's good night.

90' + 4' After a few scraps for the ball inside Liverpool's half, Partey goes for a long range which flies over the bar. That will be the end of the game says the referee. Simeone will take the 1-0 advantage but he will know it may not be enough when his men travel to Anfield for the second leg. But crucially, his side haven't conceded an away goal.

90' + 2' Vrsjalko with a timely header to head the ball behind for a corner with Milner coming in behind for a header of his own. Excellent cross from TAA.

90' + 1' Poor from Costa... On the break, he goes for a shot from distance, which is wayward. He puts his hand up to apologise to the Atleti faithful.

90' Milner fouls Vitolo, and Klopp is ranting and waving again. Four minutes if added time.

89' Klopp is animated too on the touchline as the referee doesn't penalise Atletico player for what seemed like deliberately handling the ball. His remonstrations lead to a yellow for the Liverpool manager.

Simeone is firing his supporters up but is asking his team to calm down...

86' Costa wins the ball from Fabinho inside Liverpool's half which leads to Lodi freed up on the left for a cross into the box. But the assistant referee puts his flag up.

84' Chamberlain makes a run into the edge of the box and is fouled as he takes his shot, but the referee doesn't see a foul in that.

Liverpool with all the possession but Alteti is holing fort strong. Oblak is yet to make a save tonight.

81' Its all getting a bit fiesty... Fabinho is booked for a foul on Costa. Liverpool players don't approve of the decision.

80' Costa heads out TAA's corner kick with ease.

Henderson will have to come off here. Some kind of injury to his leg. Milner will come on.

78' TAA's cross is put behind for a corner kick.

77' Final change for Atleti: Diego Costa comes on for Correa.

Wait.. Neymar equalises in the 75th minute before Haaland restores the BVB's lead two minutes later.

Without much surprise, Erling Haaland puts BVB in front against PSG. It's the striker's 10th goal since his move to Dortmund in January.

73' Origi hooks in a cross into the box and Henderson is off balance as he side-foots the ball wide of the goal.

Another strange sub from Klopp; Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Salah.

71' Oof! Lodi with a strike from distance which goes wide of the far post top corner.

Morata is slightly grimacing in pain and he is taken off for Vitolo.

68' Oh dear. Lodi's run is met with a ball over the top and the left-back cuts it back for Morata, who runs in for a shot. But the striker slips and only ends up striking his left-foot against his standing foot... Shades of Morata from Chelsea during his second year.

67' Lodi runs the length of the left flank and puts in a block against Gomez's pass. The Metropolitano applauds his effort.

He shakes it off and is okay to continue.

65' Correa goes in on Fabinho to win the ball but ends up having his foot trudged on by the Brazilian. The referee stops play.

No news of any injury to Mane. He was possibly hooked off to avoid the risk of having him sent off for a second yellow...

60' Origi reaches the ball ahead of Oblak, who had raced out of his line. But luckily for him, Origi's first touch puts the ball out for a goal kick.

58' Yellow card for Gomez for leaving a stray leg on Morata.

57' Firmino wins the ball back inside Atleti's half which releases Salah on the right side. The winger looks to cut in to take a shot from the right side but he runs into traffic.

55' The ball is nearly laid onto the path of TAA at the edge of the box but is poked away by an Atleti defender before he could line up for a shot.

53' Gomez with a superb pick out in the box for Salah, whose header is inches away from finding the bottom corner of the net! Best chance for Liverpool on the night.

Simeone is trying to fire up the home fans on the touchline.

49' Atletico breaks and Llorente in acres of space and time on the right flank. He takes the ball to the byline before cutting it behind for Vrsjalko, who doesn't sort the ball out under his feet. The ball is cleared away.

Change for both sides at the break. Llorente comes on for Lemar and Koke switches to the left side. For Liverpool, Origi comes on for Mane.

46' The second half is underway. Can Atleti hold on to its slender leader to the second leg?

SECOND HALF

I will be back in 15 minutes for the second period. Meanwhile, it remains goalless at half-time in Dortmund.

45' + 1' Ooh. Mane catches Vrsjalko in the face this time and the Atletico players want to see the second yellow out for him. But the referee doesn't deem fit and says he won't go for a VAR check. That's the last meaningful action of the first half. Atleti have someone managed that half well without Live3rpool causing them much trouble.

One minute of added time.

45' Correa is booked for a late challenge on Henderson near the centre circle.

43' Atletico looking for the odd break up forward but Van Dijk, predictably, reads the passes and snuffs them out .

40' Mane's name goes into the ref's notebook for catching the head of Vrsjalko with a stray arm.

Liverpool is ramping up the pressure as we approach the half time.

36' Mane and Firmino create an opening through the left side for Salah, who is unmarked in the middle. The Egyptian's side-footed shot on target is deflected behind for a corner by Felipe. An Escape for Atleti...

34' Lemar's run is found from a free-kick from Atleti's own half and the winger blazes his shot narrowly wide. The assistant belatedly puts his flag up for offside.

Salah switches to the centre. Firmino playing from the right side.

It's still 0-0 between BVB and PSG at Dortmund...

30' Fabinho, too, has a crack from distance which goes over the bar.

29' Good link-up play from Liverpool as Firmino finds Robertson's run infield. The left-back, in space, has a right-footed shot from distance, which goes wide.

27' Salah puts the ball into the net but it's ruled out for offside! At the other end, Oblak's kick is intercepted by Salah, whose first touch finds Firmino for the lay-off who is in an offside position. The goal doesn't stand.

26' Morata jumps on to a poor header from Van Dijk. The striker checks his run inside and looks to cut his shot into the far post but Alisson's feet sees Liverpool from being breached for the second time.

24' Morata concedes a free-kick inside his own half on the right side. TAA's cross doesn't beat the Atleti man and is cleared out of danger.

20' Crucial interception from Roberston as Morata was waiting for a tap in from a superb cross from the left by Lodi.

18' Liverpool has been relentless since going behind; not allowing Atleti to play out from the back. A sustained period of possession ends with a goal kick for Atlelti. Both Liverpool full-backs oushing high up the pitch causing trouble. A nervy spell for the home side.

14' Strange from TAA (Trent Alexander-Arnold)... He again overhits his cross over the bar from a similar position.

Atleti defending deep and in two lines as Liverpool players look to find their way past them.

The lay-off for Saul's goal was unintended as the ball deflected off Fabinho on the midfielder's path.

11' Liverpool's possession ends with Alexander-Arnold over-hitting his cross.

Atletico has come out firing in this tie. The home fans are bouncing from their seats.

7' Correa gets behind the defence from a ball played from a free-kick but he is flagged offside. A marginal call that.

4' GOOALL! Saul pokes the ball into the net from close range! What a start for Atletico! The ball from the corner falls kindly onto the path of Saul, who is unmarked at the near post, and he fires the ball past Alisson.  The goal stands after a VAR check.

3' Correa wins the ball in midfield which leads to Atleti's first break of the evening. Sustained pressure at Liverpool's end ends with Lodi cross being headed away by Van Dijk with Morata lurking behind! A corner for Atleti.

2' Whistle are out as Liverpool begins to pass the ball around.

1' Liverpool kicks things off in its black kit.

FIRST HALF

Costa is busy, even from the bench. He is geeing up his mates ahead of kick-off.

1:26 am: The Wanda Metropolitano seems to be in fine voice. The home fans have unfurled an impressive tifo as the players walk out to the middle. It's time for the anthem.

1:19 am: I will also bring you the latest from the other concurrent tie at Dortmund where BVB takes on PSG.. You can also follow it here.

 

1:12 am: Growing up, watching Champions League knockouts without the knowledge of my folks (curse the time difference!) are among my fun memories. Now that I am a full-grown adult, I cannot wait to watch my mighty Manchester United in the Champions Le... oh..

Simeone suggested that Klopp's team will have its place in history like the Brazil of 1970, Arrigo Sacchi's Milan.

This is what Klopp had to say about Atletico...

"If somebody can play for a result, it's Atletico. Mr Simeone, who I respect a lot, he tries everything.

"We have a similar story a little bit. We tried a lot and didn't win, but we still tried. I like that. He is so competitive – wow! Actually, we have a good relationship but I'm pretty sure he will forget that on the touchline because he is so animated."

12.55 pm: Both managers seem to have mutual respect for each other in the lead-up.

12:39 am: Half of Morata's 14 Champions League goals have come in the knockout stages.

12:36 am: It will be a 4-4-2 vs a 4-3-3, which we have come to expect from these sides.

12.27 am: Liverpool makes two changes from its win from the weekend; Mane and Fabinho start. For the host, Diego Costa makes the bench. Simeone makes three changes from the 2-2 draw at Valencia.

Line-ups

Atletico: Jan Oblak; Sime Vrsjalko, Stefan Savic, Felipe, Renan Lodi; Koke, Saul Niguez, Thomas Partey, Thomas Lemar; Alvaro Morata, Angel Correa

Subs: Adan, Gimenez, Llorente, Costa, Vitolo, Carrasco, Hermoso

Liverpool: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Georgino Wijnaldum, Fabino; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Subs: Milner, Keita, Adrian, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Origi, Matip.

 

12:19 am: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, despite his team being on an incredible run (understatement!), thinks the tie at Atletico "is one of the most difficult fixtures in the life of a football player." If that's the case, I wonder what Diego Simeone and his players make of this match-up against the defending European Cup champion.

12:17 am: Atleti will be without the injured Kierran Tripper and Joao Felix. Strikers Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata remain doubtful.

12:14 am: Form guide - Atleti:  L D L W D, L ; Liverpool: D W W W W

12.10 am: In head-to-head stats, these two teams have a win each from their four meetings.

MATCH PREVIEW

Atletico Madrid might once have relished the challenge of resisting an opponent like Liverpool, but reaching the Champions League's quarterfinals will require a performance not yet seen from it this season.

Diego Simeone's side is no longer the same Atletico famed for its inch-perfect defence, relentless work ethic and a knack for grinding down even the most assured, attacking teams.

Instead, it is 12 points adrift of leader Real Madrid in La Liga and last week sat sixth, a reflection of a deflating few months during which its old identity has blurred and its esteemed coach been questioned.

When it was pointed out to Simeone on Friday that both of Valencia's goals in its 2-2 draw at Mestalla had come from set-pieces, he said: “We don't have the same characteristics now. Just like we attack differently, we also defend differently.”

Out of the title race before March and knocked out of the Copa del Rey before the last 16, many in Spain believe Atletico's season is in tatters, with the assumption it will soon depart the Champions League too.

The debate has inevitably turned to Simeone and whether he remains the man to better those high standards he himself has set.

“In the eight years I've been here, every year it's been said the squad isn't with me,” Simeone said in December.

“There is always a rocky patch but I have always had patience, energy and confidence in what I believe. We can win or lose but I am convinced of what I want because I know my players.”

To prove the doubters wrong against Liverpool, Simeone will have to extract a throwback display from a new group of players and against the finest team in Europe, both in terms of current form and the last name written on the cup.

- Sense of inferiority -

Atletico might take heart from its record at home, where they must surely avoid defeat on Tuesday to keep the tie alive ahead of a daunting second leg at Anfield.

It has lost only once in 21 Champions League games in front of its own fans, even if Liverpool will hardly feel uncomfortable at the Wanda Metropolitano, where it was celebrating last June after lifting their sixth European Cup.

And a sense of inferiority might also appeal to Simeone, whose Atletico has often appeared to excel when the chance of victory seemed lowest. In recent years, it has prevailed against Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid.

Yet all logic points to a Liverpool victory, particularly given Atletico is likely to be without Diego Costa and Joao Felix, the 120 million Portugese forward who has so far struggled to live up to the hype.

Alvaro Morata's fitness is also in doubt after he played only 24 minutes off the bench against Valencia.

When Atletico thrashed Real Madrid 7-3 in pre-season, many wondered if it could repeat its remarkable title-winning feat of 2014, reinvigorated by new signings and fresh belief.

But a promising start quickly fizzled and Simeone raised eyebrows in December by insisting this was always a “transition season” for his team, despite close to 250 million euros spent last summer.

Those arrivals had big shoes to fill, after Antoine Griezmann left for Barcelona and the drain of leadership continued with the departures of Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis and Juanfran.

ALSO READ | Klopp full of respect for Atletico boss Simeone

Simeone said transition did not mean stagnation. “Anyone who believes the word transition means sunbathing and waiting for the flowers to come out doesn't know me,” he said.

Yet while he may never be under pressure at the club he has transformed since his appointment in 2011, Simeone is in need of a boost as he attempts to put Atletico back among the elite.

Liverpool may remind it how far it has to go.