With a simple 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid at Anfield, Liverpool ensured their place in the Champions League knockout stages. Jurgen Klopp’s team won thanks to goals from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, ensuring them top spot in Group B with two games remaining.
1. Suarez’s dreadful return
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson felt that his former teammate Luis Suarez deserved a standing ovation from the Anfield faithful.
However, it was evident from the start that the Uruguayan’s plea had gone unheeded, as he was booed as he stood over the kick-off.
It was his shenanigans with Barcelona in 2019 that transformed supporters who once adored him into those who now clearly don’t.
Suarez was accused of trying to get players sent off in those matches two years ago, and the Kop felt the striker went down easily chasing a through pass five minutes into this one.
He was given a yellow card for dissent late in the first half, then had a goal disallowed minutes before being withdrawn to further jeers.
After losing 4-0 to Barcelona in his previous comeback, he didn’t fare any better this time.
2. Sending a statement
When the draw was conducted earlier this year, Group B appeared to be the most likely to be the dreaded ‘death group.’
AC Milan and RB Leipzig may be deadly on their day, and Atletico Madrid is always a tough opponent..
So to have clinched first place with two games to spare is a fantastic achievement.
Klopp now has the precious luxury of being able to rest players in the final two matchdays after four wins in a row.
The injury to Roberto Firmino demonstrated how important it will be for him to rest some of his top players as they compete for championships on multiple fronts.
3. A striker’s fantasy
The justification given by Jurgen Klopp for taking Sadio Mane off at halftime reveals that nothing has changed.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is unquestionably among the best two or three ball crossers in European football.
The ball for the opener was as good as a goal for the England full-back, providing Jota with the easiest of finishes.
Mane’s second goal was equally as precise in a first-half performance that reaffirmed his status as the best full-back in the world.
When it came to this summer’s Euros, Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier was ahead of Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, but with a World Cup little over a year ago, the pecking order has to be reversed.
4. Simeone’s glum expression
On the touchline, the vivacious Diego Simeone took on a more solemn and solemn demeanor.
The visceral cries and aggressive arm flailing had vanished, replaced by a despondent expression and crossed arms.
The handshake incident from the encounter in the Spanish capital two weeks earlier dominated the pre-match conversation.
Even when it was 11 vs 11 this time, Simeone would have to concede that his team was overwhelmed and outgunned.
5. Ref Makkelie hugged the spotlight
By the time Danny Makkelie showed Felipe a red card late in the first half, the game was arguably already finished.
But the fact that analysts, observers, and neutrals took so long to learn what he was being sent to say it all.
Luis was eventually expelled by UEFA for aggressive behaviour, but proving that there was any undue force or brutality would be extremely difficult.
The man in the middle looked to utterly lose the game for the next ten minutes, throwing cards out on the spur of the moment in an odd performance.