X

Top Winners, Losers After Wednesday's Champions League Round-of-16 Leg-2 Results

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2020

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Adrian of Liverpool celebrates after his team scored a goal to make it 2-0  during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Liverpool FC and Atletico Madrid at Anfield on March 11, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Liverpool's UEFA Champions League defence came to a stuttering end on Wednesday amid a series of gaffes from backup goalkeeper Adrian. The Spaniard replaced the injured Alisson Becker for the last-16 second-leg tie against Atletico Madrid, but he failed to keep out two long-range shots from substitute Marcos Llorente.

Atleti's unlikely two-goal hero helped to secure an improbable 3-2 win at Anfield after extra time. Alvaro Morata's goal late on not only continued the streak of players coming off the bench to make the difference for Diego Simeone's side, but it also secured a 4-2 aggregate triumph.

Atletico will be joined in the draw for the last eight by a Neymar-inspired Paris Saint-Germain. The world's most expensive player headed Les Parisiens in front against Borussia Dortmund en route to a 2-0 win at an Parc des Princes without fans.

A usually free-scoring Dortmund team mustered little in response largely because prolific striker Erling Haaland endured an uncharacteristic off night.

           

Wednesday Scores

  • Liverpool 2-3 Atletico Madrid (Atletico win 4-2 on aggregate)
  • Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Borussia Dortmund (PSG win 3-2 on aggregate)

               

Winner: Marcos Llorente

It's difficult to describe how unlikely a match-winner Llorente was. Largely disappointing since arriving from neighbours Real in a deal worth €40 million last summer, the 25-year-old looked nothing more than an additional body for defensive areas when he entered the fray in place of Diego Costa on 56 minutes.

A holding midfielder coming on for a striker with Atletico 1-0 down looked like a pretty clear signal about the lack of attacking intent from the Argentinian's team. Costa was suitably unimpressed by a decision that was classic Simeone.

B/R Football @brfootball

Diego Costa™ https://t.co/dT1jXjqB4t

For a long time, that's how things played out, but the proof that there's more to Llorente's game came seven minutes into extra time. He profited from Adrian's mistake and beat the stopper with an angled drive into the bottom corner.

Llorente's opener halted the celebrations born of Roberto Firmino putting the hosts ahead moments earlier:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

167 - There were just 167 seconds between Roberto Firmino's goal for Liverpool and Marcos Llorente's strike for Atlético Madrid. Response. https://t.co/rOqI3wIAbl

Not content with creating one major shock, Llorente was unerringly accurate after Morata played him in during stoppage time of the first half of the extra period. The midfielder’s second strike gave Liverpool too much to do in order to progress.

Adding some context to Llorente's rare mention on the scoresheet further underlines his status as the most unlikeliest of heroes.

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Marcos Llorente had scored three senior goals in entire club career until tonight. Over 6,000 minutes of football. Now two more inside 10 mins.

His out-of-nothing star turn fit an Atleti team never more dangerous than when playing as underdogs.

            

Loser: Adrian

For all the plaudits sure to be lavished upon Simeone and his players, Atleti wouldn't have got near Liverpool without significant but unintentional help from Adrian.

More goals and a comfortable procession into the quarter-final appeared inevitable after Firmino added to Georginio Wijnaldum's first-half header in the first half of extra time. Yet Adrian flipped the script in an instant when his errant pass out of the box rolled to Joao Felix, who swiftly teed up Llorente:

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

LLORENTE Atlético capitalizes on the massive Liverpool error ➡️ https://t.co/HcWhApwKoU https://t.co/xj7KsQ5yO9

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

All eyes on Adrián 😶 What happened here?! As it stands Atletico are going through! https://t.co/XhoEqFKN5d

After appearing to slip when trying to get to Llorente's first finish, Adrian hardly did better with the second. The 33-year-old again appeared slow to get down to the ball, showing a worrying vulnerability to efforts from distance:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

🧤Goals conceded from outside the box in @ChampionsLeague by @LFC goalkeepers since start of last season 2⃣ Adrian (285 mins played) 2⃣ Alisson (1620 mins played) https://t.co/N0CCtnsuQJ

Questions also needed to be asked about the former Real Betis man's attempts to deal with Morata's 121st-minute goal.

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Morata. Dagger. And celebrates in front of the traveling Atlético fans at Anfield 🔥 https://t.co/mRuPMQ5bct

Liverpool have been hurt by goalkeepers in this competition before. Adrian's miserable night belongs in a hall of shame with the past blunders of Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet.

It's a painful reminder of the need for a deputy keeper who can be trusted to excel when filling in rather than one merely fit for emergencies only.

             

Winner: Neymar

There may be critics who think he goes to ground too easily and picks his moments to play, but Neymar's record at this level commands respect. The Brazilian padded an already impressive tally when he was left unmarked to head in from a corner on 28 minutes.

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

🔴🔵 Neymar's record in the #UCL = 🔥🔥🔥 🇧🇷 @neymarjr https://t.co/HbcX9ADhUc

With Kylian Mbappe on the bench, the onus was on Neymar to make the difference for PSG. Doing so in this tournament is why PSG paid a world-record fee to bring over Neymar from Barcelona.

Making headway in the Champions League has still proved a problem, but Neymar's magic is still PSG's best means of finally getting it right in Europe. The forward has 18 goals to his credit in all competitions this season, and few teams left in the draw will relish having to contain the prolific No. 10 in the last eight.

             

Loser: Erling Haaland

Haaland had barely put a foot wrong in the Champions League this season. His two goals were enough for Dortmund to win the first leg and added to the eight he had already scored for Red Bull Salzburg before his January transfer.

Momentum, form and timing all appeared to be on the 19-year-old's side for the visit to the French capital. Outperforming Neymar and helping to seal PSG's fate would have been the perfect way for Haaland to announce himself as more than a gifted youngster with potential.

Global superstardom awaited, but the Norwegian couldn't reach it because of a largely anonymous showing:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Erling Haaland completed just 4 passes in the first half vs. PSG, 2 of which we from kick off. He also failed to take a shot, create a chance or complete a take-on. Tuchel’s side are keeping the youngster quiet so far. 🤫 https://t.co/t1h9JF0Tpr

Enduring such a quiet game against a vulnerable PSG back line missing talisman Thiago Silva only added to Haaland's disappointment. In fairness, he was hardly helped by a rare lack of service from those around him.

Dortmund couldn't control the play while being overwhelmed in midfield by a PSG unit underpinned brilliantly by formidable enforcer Idrissa Gueye. The problem revealed how beholden Haaland is to his supporting cast.

He's an exceptional finisher, but the Norway international is not going to dictate a game in other ways himself the way Neymar can.

B/R Football @brfootball

Neymar did Haaland's celebration ☠️ https://t.co/5RArW1Em9F

Haaland will remain a touted prospect, but some expectations will need to be readjusted while he continues his development.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.