Jan Oblak, GK: 6
Zero saves — from zero shots on target. In an unlikely twist, this stands as one of the easiest clean sheets Oblak will ever get.
Šime Vrsaljko, RB: 7
Not expected to play on Tuesday night, Vrsaljko surprised many — not just because Diego Simeone selected him, but because he played a very good 90 minutes. Primarily, he provoked a Sadio Mané yellow card and won his 45-minute duel with the Senegal winger. The Croatian teased a couple dangerous deliveries in those rare moments of Atlético Madrid possession.
Stefan Savić, CB: 6.5
One-fourth of Savić’s 24 touches were clearances, which sums up what he was asked to do in this match. His partnership with Felipe looks sound, and he had one long ball delivery in the second half which nearly sent Lodi off to the races.
Felipe, CB: 7.5
Made a huge 36th minute clearance to prevent a potential Mohamed Salah goal and completed a steady 90 minutes. The latest great performance on a big stage in a debut season filled with them.
Renan Lodi, LB: 8.5
Here’s one way — the best way — to respond to criticism. Marca had picked on Lodi for his defensive troubles in recent weeks, so he went on to lock up Trent Alexander-Arnold for 90 minutes. Salah escaped him a couple times, but like Vrsaljko he benefitted from Atlético Madrid’s “help defense,” to borrow a basketball term.
Lodi took a team-high 63 touches and registered a dangerous shot from distance to go along with a key pass and six tackles. Really impressive night for the 21-year-old.
Thomas Partey, CM: 7.5
Excellent, bringing his strong performance against Valencia into this clash with the European Cup holders. Thomas took some sloppy touches early but turned it on as the game moved along. The Ghanaian was a constant source of activity, with five tackles, three shots and three headers won.
Saúl Ñíguez, CM: 8.5 (Mattress Maker of the Match)
Bayern Munich. Bayer Leverkusen. Leicester City. Real Madrid. Now, you can now add Liverpool to the list of Saúl’s Champions League knockout stage victims.
Tuesday night began with a clever turn away from Georginio Wijnaldum and a ball struck low beyond a diving Alisson, and it was clearly Saúl’s best performance in this uneven season. The goal was his only shot and his only touch inside the 18-yard box all night, but he appeared so much more comfortable in the center of the park. He completed a game-high five dribbles, completed 85 percent of his passes and ran about four miles.
Koke, RM: 7.5
Led from the front, in antithesis to one of the long-standing criticisms of Koke’s game. He really looked like a leader against Liverpool. The captain helped Vrsaljko a ton in the first half, shuttled out to the left after halftime and can be credited with a pseudo-assist on the game’s only goal.
Thomas Lemar, LM: 5
The other surprise starter could not make the impact Vrsaljko made. Lemar completed each of his eight passes — all but one short in length — and was competent cover for Lodi. In the end, Simeone opted to swap Lemar for Llorente and move Koke over to help the Brazilian.
Ángel Correa, FW: 5.5
Does not thrive in games like this, where there is little space or room for expression. Correa ran a lot and worked very hard, but he picked up a yellow card and did not register a shot.
Álvaro Morata, FW: 4.5
Had two great chances to double Atlético’s lead and literally fell over attempting one of them. There’s a not-unlikely possibility that Atleti will rue Morata’s two misses during the return leg next month, but João Félix should be back and Costa could be contributing by that time.
Marcos Llorente, RM: 6.5
Entered for Lemar at halftime. Appears to be adjusting to his new position out wide, where he can use his speed and athleticism without needing to dictate a match.
Vitolo, FW: 5
Entered for Morata in the 70th minute. Attempted only three passes and tried a couple tricks, with minimal impact.
Diego Costa, FW: N/A
Entered for Correa in the 76th minute. The big man returned after a three-month absence, almost immediately got into it with Virgil van Dijk and saw a long-range effort sail wide.
Mattress Maker of the Match versus Liverpool:
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