After breezing past Bayern Munich the day before, Liverpool suffered their first defeat of pre-season with a close fought outing less than 24-hours later against Champions League runners-up Atletico Madrid — a match that was pushed all the way to penalties.
“If you get to a penalty shootout you want to win it, but that’s not the important situation that we have today,” said Reds boss Jurgen Klopp. “The boys played really well, they were very good in their preparations and you couldn’t have had a more difficult job than we did today against a team like Atletico, who get results, results, results,” explained the German manager. “We had a lot of substitutions and were a bit tired from all the training, so it can’t be easy.”
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The compact nature of the Audi Cup meant that both sides were back in action less than a day after the opening matches of the tournament. Atletico, who beat Italian side Napoli to seal a place in the final, opened the scoring in the first half when youngster Keidi Bare nodded home after Reds ‘keeper Danny Ward expertly saved from Angel Correa, but a late penalty from Roberto Firmino forced the issue to send this one to penalties — ultimately their first defeat in what’s been an exciting and productive pre-season.
“The pressure’s on them to put it in the back of the net so hat’s off to them, they put them away [with] good penalties. I can’t have any complaints, really,” conceded Reds ‘keeper Danny Ward, making his first appearance for the club since helping Huddersfield gain promotion to the Premier League. “You can’t have them all as a ’keeper, you’ve just got to pick a way to dive and I think the luck was on their side today,” added the Welshman. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it’s 90 minutes or 120 minutes, you want to win the game regardless of whether it’s pre-season or in whatever competition. Obviously it’s disappointing, but we’ll learn from it.”