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Liverpool’s Keïta Follows Golazo With Defense So Bad He Was Benched At Halftime

Mohamed Salah’s two goals gave Liverpool a huge 3-2 win over 10-man Atlético Madrid.

Naby Keïta drilled a scorching volley to put Liverpool up two inside 13 minutes. He followed that up with defense so bad he was given the hook at halftime.

Antoine Griezmann scored twice in the first half and nearly had more. He followed that up by inadvertently kicked Roberto Firmino in the face and was sent off early in the second half. 

Liverpool blew a two-goal lead before pulling out a 3-2 win over 10-man Atlético Madrid thanks to a Mohamed Salah penalty on Tuesday in thrilling Champions League action in the Spanish capital. 

Jürgen Klopp’s side had a dream start only to go into halftime tied. Aided by a red card and a penalty kick, Liverpool remained perfect through three matches in Group B. 

Atleti looked brilliant on the counter at times but didn’t have enough after going down to 10 men. Diego Simeone’s side remained in second in the group on goal difference ahead of Porto, which beat AC Milan 1-0 on Tuesday. 

Atlético Madrid vs Liverpool Highlights (2021 UCL Group Stage)

You can’t spell “Mohamed Salah” without “McDonalds Hamburger” — and with Liverpool in its Ronaldo McDonald kit the Egyptian was in a mood early. Among a handful of moments where he continued to look unplayable in the opening minutes, Salah cut inside and hit an effort that opened the scoring in the eighth minute.

It looked like James Milner had the final touch, but the goal was given to Salah, who deserved it, if we’re being honest.

Liverpool’s dream start got even better when Keïta made it 2-0 inside 13 minutes. A poor clearance landed perfectly in front of the Guinean, who instinctively volleyed a beautiful goal.

But things went downhill from there for Keïta and Liverpool.

Keïta came out to defend a short corner, where he was easily beaten on the dribble by Thomas Lemar, whose ball into the box resulted in Griezmann’s first goal of the day.

Keïta was again at fault on Atleti’s second. This time João Félix embarrassed the Liverpool No. 8 by dancing away from his repeated challenges before setting up Griezmann’s second. Note how turned around Virgil van Dijk is on this play as he failed to deal with the movement of Atlético’s attack.

Griezmann nearly had another in the first half but for an excellent one-on-one save by Alisson, who bailed out his defense a couple of times in the first half. Atlético’s two strikers wreaked havoc in wide areas on the counter as Liverpool fullbacks pushed high and the central midfielders failed to cover. Alisson denied a similar opportunity when Félix beautifully pulled down a ball on the left wing and raced toward goal to ensure Liverpool did not go into halftime trailing.

At halftime, Keïta was pulled for Fabinho, Klopp favoring the Brazilian’s defensive stability to Keïta’s inability to stop anyone off the dribble.

Liverpool soon had a man advantage when Griezmann was shown a straight red card in the 52nd minute. The Frenchman’s boot, searching for a lofted ball, instead found only the face of Firmino. While inadvertent, there can be no complaints over the color of the card, even if Zlatan Ibrahimović only received yellow for a nearly identical high boot against Porto.

Just as there could be no complaints over the red, there could be no complaints over a penalty awarded to Liverpool. Mario Hermoso decided he’d rather barge into Diogo Jota than make a play on a ball into the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. 

Salah buried his penalty into the left corner to give Liverpool the lead with under 15 minutes to play.

Simeone responded by making a line change — four subs came on — and it nearly paid immediate dividends. Moments after the changes, a free kick lobbed into the box saw José María Giménez nudged by Jota and the Uruguayan went to the ground, compelling the referee to point to the spot.

However, the VAR was called into use and the referee, upon second viewing, decided against awarding a penalty and Liverpool held on to win.

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