Liverpool 2-0 Atletico Madrid: Reds canter to Champions League knockout stages
 (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool secured a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the fifth successive season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid at Anfield

The Reds exorcised the ghosts of their hair-raising quarter-final exit  on Merseyside back in 2020 with their fourth consecutive win of the group stage this season, a feat never before achieved by the club. 

First half strikes from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, both assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold, put Liverpool in the driving seat but it was the dismissal of Atleti centre-half Felipe that sapped the competitiveness from the contest.

Jurgen Klopp will be afforded the luxury of resting key players knowing top spot in Group B is cemented approaching the bustling festive period of fixtures.

  • Story of the match

Whilst both sides were assured in their attack with accurate passing, the visitors had the first gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock when Angel Correa should have fired a ball along the deck, only to sky his effort to bypass his teammates in the area.

The bite associated with the side's previous encounters was never too far too far away in the opening stages, Mario Hermoso earning the games first yellow card in the eighth minute and Koke then clattering into Sadio Mane in midfield.

It was indeed Diogo Jota who put the Reds in front a matter of moments later against his former employers, the Portuguese on the receiving end of a perfect Trent Alexander-Arnold ball to nod home.

Sadio Mane's upper body strength and balance saw the winger weave and feign his way past multiple defenders, working the ball wide for the young Scouse right-back to turn provider once again for Mane to direct the latter's effort homebound, doubling the advantage.

Liverpool's second rejuvenated the direction of Diego Simeone's men for a brief spell in the final third, but the final efforts of the likes of Yannick Carrasco and Joao Felix left much to be desired. 

Jota should have been slipped in for his second when Mo Salah latched onto a loose ball from Rodrigo de Paul and squandered a chance to put in his striking partner.

Atleti's Felipe was sent off in a card frenzy with ten minutes left of the first period, with Koke and Luis Suarez also noted in referee Danny Makkelie's book for dissent.

The Spanish centre-back cynically clipped the legs of an advancing Mane on the break, and refused to retreat back to Makkelie's multiple requests to acknowledge his wrongdoing, before eventually being sent for an early bath. 

Salah and Jota had chances of their own to put the Matchday 4 tie to bed before the break, the centre forward unable to recreate his scoring exploits against Burnley by getting on the end of a Kostas Tsimikas cross, only for Jan Oblak to parry away from goal. 

With the 10-man Rojiblancos notorious belligerent tactics in mind, yellow carded Sadio Mane was replaced for Roberto Firmino at the interval.

An offside flag, de Paul, and then Jota's own miscalculation in timing a leap to header were each on hand to deny him from a deserved brace on separate occasions in the opening ten minutes of play.

With Liverpool's dominance resumed, Luis Suarez reminded his old side that complacency in front of goal could be punished- nevertheless his deflected strike was chalked off due to Hermoso's offside involvement in the build up. 

Suarez's involvement thereafter was short lived, with his premature retraction from the pitch a tactical one but nonetheless reflective of Simeone's desire to shut up the proverbial shop. 

Hector Herrara's wayward effort on a swift counter summarised his side's limp efforts throughout the 90 minutes, rarely in possession and  not threatening with real intent when with the ball. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's false dawn in terms of new additions to Liverpool's injury list saw the alarm raised for real soon after, when Firmino walk straight down the tunnel after what appeared to be a muscle strain. 

Liverpool's largely innocuous last twenty minutes was arisen with some mazy footwork from their 'Egyptian King' on the right flank- beating Hermoso and Renan Lodi but ultimately amounting to little in regards to goal threat, particularly with Divock Origi's comical effort from range. 

The win not only secured Liverpool's progression to the last 16, but was their 25th consecutive unbeaten result; the joint-longest in club history and scoring at least two in the last 13 of those games.

Whereas the form of the visitors' average October (winning only two of their five games last month) seeps into November with it all to do the last two fixtures, sitting a point behind their Iberian peers Porto in Group B.

  • Man of the Match- Trent Alexander-Arnold

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The Scouser in Jurgen Klopp's team was a standout on a night where Liverpool seldom required effort to stabilise what would become the final score.

Alexander-Arnold put in a measured cross for Jota in the 13th minute, bouncing in front of and not over the head of the forward to direct the ball in.

Whilst the hard work for the second was performed by Mane, the right-back's intelligence to drive a ball hard, low and on target in the direction of the Senegalese meant the 23-year-old registered his fifth assist of the 2021/22 campaign and took Mane to the club's third-highest goalscorer in Europe. 

Accompanying his two first-half assists, Alexander-Arnold created six big chances, completed 92% of his passes and made seven recoveries.