Never in doubt.
Just the one change for the Tricky Reds tonight, as Alisson replaced Kelleher in goal. The youngster hadn’t done anything wrong in the 5-0 demolition of Watford on Saturday but, well, if Ali is fit he plays. It’s as simple as that.
A cagey opening few minutes, with the two sides working each other out, suddenly exploded in the eighth minute as Mo cut in from the right, evaded three defenders and unleashed a low drive from the edge of the box. It was on target but deflected off either Millie or Kondogbia and flew past Oblak. 1-0 to the good guys.
The home side had barely touched the ball and soon found themselves two goals down. The ball was again worked in from the right and a poor Felipe clearance fell to Keïta on the edge of the box. His rasping first-time volley scorched past the home ‘keeper. 2-0 after 13 minutes.
Sadio was flagged marginally offside as he was about to break clear to make it three; instead, Trent was forced into a good clearance at the back post as the hosts threatened and, from the resulting corner, Lemar skipped past Naby too easily and Koke’s low shot, which was going wide, was turned home by Griezmann. 1-2 after 20 minutes.
The French striker then beat the offside trap but Alisson spread himself well to block; a couple of Liverpool free kicks were easily fielded by Oblak. Felix then wriggled past Keïta and fed Griezmann, who took one touch and then fired past Alisson. All square after 34 minutes.
Joao Felix broke down the Madrid left but his low angled shot was easily saved by Ali; Koke then tried to find De Paul but the bearded Brazilian was on hand again. The Reds then got lucky as Alisson’s clearance cannoned off Matip and almost fell to Griezmann. Ali then saved at close range from Lemar, as the home side took control.
As the players trudged off for their halftime oranges, the visitors had had almost 70% of the possession and had stormed into an early two-goal lead but some poor defending and clinical finishing from Griezmann had seen the home side pull level and finish the half in the ascendancy.
The second stanza started with Fabinho replacing Keïta, whose outstanding goal was offset by his poor defensive work. Our bald Brazilian was brought on to add more midfield protection in front of the struggling defence.
Trent’s corner was headed on by Sadio but clawed away by Oblak; at the other end, Alisson made a sprawling save to deny Carrasco. Seven minutes into the second half, Griezmann received a straight red for a high boot, which hit Bobby in the side of his head. No malice intended but the boot was definitely too high and the red fully justified.
The hosts now had to survive forty-odd minutes with ten men and the Reds took control. Virgil headed straight at Oblak; Robertson blasted over; Millie was booked after some theatrics from Trippier.
Jürgen made a double substitution on the 63’ mark, as Jota and Ox replaced Sadio and Millie; the former Arsenal man linked up nicely with Mo but shot straight at the Slovenian goalkeeper.
With a quarter of an hour to play, Trent’s hopeful up and under saw Hermoso clatter unnecessarily into Jota; penalty to the Reds. Mo wrong footed Oblak and it was 3-2 after 78 minutes.
And then more drama. Atletico swung in a free kick from the right and Jota was adjudged to have bundled over Suarez in the box. Penalty given. The German referee was then asked to check by VAR and overturned his decision, much to the angst of the home supporters.
Gomez replaced Trent for the last five minutes as the visitors looked to finally put the game to bed; six minutes of stoppage time were indicated and Neco Williams was brought on to replace Mo, who had run himself into the ground. Correa blazed over after some good play by the home side.
And that was that. An absolute humdinger of a match, with fortunes fluctuating wildly and no end of drama. The Reds are now unbeaten in 21 games and on the verge of qualifying from the group after three wins out of three.
Next up, in case nobody had noticed, is a visit to Castle Greyskull on Sunday afternoon to face the old enemy. Obviously a game that requires no introduction but, given that a heavy defeat for the home side might push Ole out of the door, I’d settle for a narrow 1-0 victory for us. Preferably courtesy of a dodgy penalty deep into stoppage time.
MOTM: Lidl. Yes, that’s right, the bargain supermarket makes an appearance among the usual expensive wines and top end restaurants. Why? Because they currently have possibly the biggest vinous bargain in the UK at the moment on their shelves: their Passito di Pantelleria dessert wine, which is an absolute steal at a paltry £11.99. Just buy it!