After the final whistle, Atlético players and coach Diego Simeone were left cursing the errors which cost them so dearly. Uncharacteristically sloppy at the back, the frustration on key figures’ faces was clear for all to see.
“I’m bitter because the game got away from us so quickly, the goals, the red card…” Simeone reflected post-match. “I also accept the second half, because we didn’t break against a team who can put seven past you if they want to.
“We stayed humble enough to try to get back into the game, it could’ve been with [Luis] Suárez’s goal, but we can be calm [knowing] that we gave our all,” the coach added.
“They punished us with our two mistakes for their goals, and then with Felipe’s sending off it was all uphill,” defender Mario Hermoso agreed. “We knew that in the second half we would have to suffer, it’s not easy to come here and play for so long with one man less.
“The team held out, we didn’t concede and had chances but didn’t put them away.”
However, Jan Oblak shared a different point of view. As opposed to the optimistic realism Hermoso and Simeone expressed, the goalkeeper was clearly furious even after the final whistle.
“We conceded two easy goals, and that can’t happen,” he insisted. “After conceding two goals like that, it’s difficult to come back and even more so with one man down.
“Both goals were too easy. We all know it, the whole team,” Oblak continued. “I don’t know what’s happening, but we have to improve on that aspect of our game.
“I’m sure that when we improve at the back, our results will improve. It’s not just one player, it’s the whole team.”
Felipe’s red card
One of the turning points in the tie came with Atlético already two goals behind.
In the 36th minute, Felipe was dismissed for a foul on Sadio Mané as the Senegal international looked to counter-attack. The red card shocked some, as it was seemingly a tactical foul inside Liverpool’s own half, and Oblak was among those surprised by the colour of the card shown.
“Again. One in the first game [against Liverpool], another tonight,” Oblak began, clearly showing his frustration. “It’s difficult to talk about. They’re refereeing decisions which punish us. Against Porto and Milan there were similar incidents and players weren’t sent off. I didn’t see the foul closely, I thought he’d give a yellow and then it was red.”
“You saw it for yourself, I have to focus on improving the team,” was Simeone’s response as he sought to avoid controversy.
Cholo’s opposite number, Jürgen Klopp, didn’t agree — though that is not unusual.
“I thought it was a yellow, then I saw how and where he touched Mané and it’s a red,” the German said.
The result means Atlético now face a challenging campaign to secure qualification from their Champions League group, though their fate does remain in their own hands with Milan next to visit Madrid before a trip to Porto.
“It’s not far away from the past few Champions League groups we’ve been in. Years ago we went through more quickly, but now we have to win against Milan and that’s what we’re focused on,” Simeone said.
“We still have time to correct it. We have two games to qualify,” Hermoso reflected. “We’re good in LaLiga, and we have to carry that winning feeling across for each game.”
“We depend on ourselves and have to win the two games we have left,” Oblak said. “It won’t be easy but we have to win and give our best, we can win and qualify.”
Sitting one point behind Porto after four games was not part of Atlético’s plan, particularly with Liverpool now qualified and guaranteed top spot in Group B. That could condition their team selection as they now face Atleti’s two rivals for second place, and so six points from six is a must for the Colchoneros.