Early goal seals Atletico win

2010-04-22 23:05
Diego Forlan (AFP)

Madrid - A toothless Liverpool failed to get the away goal they craved as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final.

Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan had a huge slice of luck for his winner in the ninth minute but there was nothing fortunate about his side's win as Liverpool, missing star striker Fernando Torres, failed to test goalkeeper David de Gea and must now rely on home advantage to turn the tie around in the second leg at Anfield on April 29.

The last time Liverpool visited Madrid they beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of last season's last 16 Champions League tie but they were second best at the Calderon and fortunate to escape with a 1-0 loss with goalkeeper Pepe Reina pulling off some fine saves to keep the Spaniards at bay.

"It is half-time and the second game is at Anfield so we are hopeful," said Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez. "We are disappointed because we conceded a strange goal and we could not score, you always want to score.

There was no emotional homecoming for Atletico favourite Torres - who came through the youth system and was made captain at 19 - with the Liverpool striker sidelined for the rest of the season due to knee surgery. In the absence of Torres, Benitez put his faith in French striker David Ngog.

With Argentine forward Sergio "Kun" Aguero suspended the Atletico goals responsibility fell more on the shoulders of top-scorer Forlan who memorably scored both goals for Manchester United in a 2-1 league win over Liverpool at Anfield back in the 2002.

Despite reaching the semi-finals Atletico had only won one of their 12 European games - six in the Champions and six in the Europa League - and had lost their last two matches in the league.

However, they got the perfect start netting after just nine minutes although there was a huge slice of luck for Forlan who looked to have fluffed his lines.

Jose Jurado crossed from the by-line and the unmarked Forlan got his header horribly wrong but the ball fell kindly into his path and the Uruagayan scuffed the ball past Reina.

"It is a good result but we have another 90 minutes at Anfield where they are very strong," said Forlan. "There is a long way to go to the final."

In the opening quarter hour Liverpool looked like they were jaded from their 24-hour journey from Liverpool to Madrid although coach Benitez had insisted it would not affect his troops.

Liverpool thought they had equalised in the 17th minute when a miscued Dirk Kuyt shot turned into a pass for Benayoun who finished cooly but the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside.

Liverpool's poor first half showing was summed up by a dreadful cross-field pass from Javier Mascherano that missed its target by 10 metres and went directly out of play.

Liverpool were better in the second half and Luis Perea had to make a last ditch tackle to stop Gerrard going clean through on goal.

But Atletico were creating the clear-cut chances and Forlan wasted a great chance with a curious lob before Simao latched on to Ujfalusi's cross only for Reina to produce a fine save.

The agitated Benitez pulled off the ineffective Ngog just after the hour mark with Dutch striker Ryan Babel coming in on his place.

However, it was Atletico who looked the more likely to score with Reina producing another fine stop and Atletico could rue the missed chances if they are turned over at Anfield.



Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs

Bafana Bafana have been drawn with Cameroon, Gambia and Mauritania in the qualification stages for the 2017 AFCON tournament. Where will Shakes Mashaba's men finish in their pool?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.