Kieran Trippier admits that Atletico Madrid set out to frustrate Liverpool as they battled to a stirring Champions League last-16 win at Anfield, knowing that beating the Reds’ first line of pressing would be key to creating chances.
Carrying a 1-0 advantage into the second leg against the reigning European champions, Atleti were forced into extra time by Georginio Wijnaldum’s header late in the first half.
Roberto Firmino scrambled in a second to briefly set Jurgen Klopp’s men on course for the quarter-finals but Marcos Llorente twice struck crisply from outside the area before fellow substitute Alvaro Morata added the final flourish in a 3-2 win.
A stout defensive showing was every bit as much of the story, however, as visiting goalkeeper Jan Oblak excelled on Wednesday, making a number of tremendous saves to keep the Premier League leaders out.
“We knew it was going to be very difficult, even with the lead. Liverpool are a fantastic side,” England right-back Trippier told BT Sport. “We needed to stay defensively strong, keep our shape and frustrate Liverpool.
“We knew we would get our chance to break the press of Firmino, [Sadio] Mane and [Mohamed] Salah. We kept going and we got the win. We knew we’d get our chances and it’s just about being clinical in those moments.”
Atleti head coach Diego Simeone cut an animated figure on the touchline throughout a win very much in his own image.
“We never give up. The way we play is the way we train,” Trippier said. “You see him on the touchline, he’s like that in training.”
The outcome provided a sharp contrast for Trippier, who was part of the Tottenham side beaten by Liverpool in last season’s final at Atleti’s Wanda Metropolitano.
“After last season, I knew I needed a change,” he added. “I’m loving my time here, I’m learning new things every single day. I hope I’m here for many years.”
Atletico Madrid will join RB Leipzig, Atalanta and Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals, with the remainder of the last-16 teams still to play.
Simeone’s side, who sit sixth in La Liga, are next in action on Sunday with a trip to San Mames where they will face Athletic Club.