UEFA Champions LeagueMarred by some strange refereeing decision and the injury of Fernando Torres, the mouth watering encounter between Atletico and Liverpool was bogged down to a predictable draw at the Vicente Calderon.
Atletico Madrid 1 -1 Liverpool
Atletico Madrid 1 -1 Liverpool
It was almost like a high school gathering. There were links and ties to each of their clubs some way or the other. Or perhaps it's just Liverpool fielding a lot of Spanish players than Atletico themselves.
With Torres' eagerly anticipated homecoming thwarted by injury, the game lost further shine when Sergio Aguero was dropped to the bench and the home side fielding two inexperienced teenagers.
For the visitors, it's a surprising sight to see Dirk Kuyt starting on the bench despite his recent goalscoring exploit in the Premiership as well as in Europe. It meant that Robbie Keane was up front on his own, with Gerrard in support. A very cautious formation.
But Liverpool took hold of the game almost immediately and was having a stroll in the park for the first half of the game. Though Atletico threatened on occasions, with Forlan flashing a left foot shot just wide, Liverpool were in total control and every time they attacked, they definitely looked threatening.
The controversial goal came in the 14th minute when Gerrard played a superb through-ball for Robbie Keane, who had an easy task of putting it into the net. Replays show that Keane was a yard offside. Just one of the few major decision which the linesman misjudged.
Then Keane should have doubled the lead, if only he wasn't that over-confident of himself. Gerrard whipped in a perfect cross for the Irish striker but instead of smashing home, he tried to flick it off his boot but missed it totally.
Shame. If only he scored.
Atletico then came out of the second half a totally different team, with Javier Aguire replacing former Liverpool forward, Luis Garcia, with his wonderkid, Kun Aguero. Though he didn't manage to get off the mark in his game, his impact was evident.
With his presence perhaps, Atletico showed more intent and urgency in their play. At times, Liverpool looked outnumbered in defence, with Kun, Forlan, Sinama-Pongolle, Maniche marauding forward looking for the equaliser.
Both Liverpool and Atletico had goals ruled out for offside, erroneously. Just one of those night for the referee.
Then Simao came really close when he was unmarked on the left flank and he rifled it against the post. Pepe Reina did extremely well with a fingertip save. Signs of things to come. Because the Portugese winger, whom was supposed to sign for Liverpool in his Benfica days, sent the home fans into rapture.
A long ball was uncharacteristically misjudged by Jamie Carragher and choas ensued in the Liverpool penalty box. Forlan eventually laid off the ball for Simao to fire home. A costly mistake from the experienced man.
A fair result for both teams, with such affinity and ties between them. Both teams had good spells in the game and the 1-1 draw was a fair reflection of the game, though some of the linesman's decision were questionable.