Liverpool must come from behind in their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid after a 1-0 first-leg defeat in the Spanish capital on Tuesday, only their third defeat of the season.
Struggling domestically but always dangerous in Europe, Atletico got an early winner as Saul Niguez poked home from close range as the ball fell kindly to him from a corner.
Liverpool dominated the ball (73 per cent) but could not break through the stubborn Atletico defensive wall, with Mohamed Salah going close twice, and Jordan Henderson steering just wide in the second half.
The European champions ended the game with no shots on target, and have a task on their hands in the second leg at Anfield in three weeks, at 8pm on March 11.
Returning to the scene of their Champions League win in June, where half of the Wanda Metropolitano was behind them, Liverpool this time struggled early on in a Madrid caldron.
An early Koke corner evaded everyone in the box before hitting the foot of Fabinho, then fortuitously falling to Saul to turn home from close range for the opener.
Liverpool reacted well and had all of the ball – 75 per cent in the first half, and in dangerous areas – but struggled to break down the Atletico defence. In a rare break, Alvaro Morata nearly capitalised on an equally rare Virgil van Dijk mishap, but saw his shot from an acute angle blocked by Alisson.
Liverpool had the ball in the net not long after as Jan Oblak’s miscued clearance fell to Salah 40 yards out; he instinctively passed forward to Roberto Firmino, using him as a wall before Salah rolled the ball into the net, only for the flag to go up for an offside against the Brazilian.
The visitors best chance then fell to Salah after good work from Sadio Mane and then Firmino, but the Egyptian’s goal-bound effort from 12 yards was superbly deflected clear by Felipe.
Jurgen Klopp made a change at half-time as Mane made way for Divock Origi, but it was more of the same as Salah headed wide unmarked from a Joe Gomez cross.
Atletico arguably had the best chance to score the second goal as Morata met a Renan Lodi’s centre in acres of space, only to slip as he went to shoot from 10 yards.
Henderson came within inches of an equaliser, steering a side-footed effort from 12 yards just wide, and there was concern late on as the Liverpool captain was then forced off with an apparent glute injury.
Similarly, Erling Braut Haaland continued his remarkable scoring form this season with two more goals to give Borussia Dortmund the advantage over Paris St-Germain in their Champions League last-16 tie.
The 19-year-old Norwegian showed two distinct sides of his impressive game with two second-half strikes – the first a predatory finish after Raphael Guerreiro’s shot was blocked and the second a left-footed thunderbolt from 20 yards.
They took his tally for the season to a stunning 39 goals in only 29 appearances, and 11 in seven since joining Dortmund in January.
In between the Haaland goals, Neymar briefly drew the visitors level, slotting in a low Kylian Mbappe cross on his return following four matches out with a rib injury.
But he was outshone by Haaland, who gave the German side the result their positive display deserved and a narrow lead to take to the Parc des Princes for the second leg on Wednesday 11 March.
Neymar went close to another equaliser in the closing stages but his strike clipped the woodwork as Dortmund held on to take a slender advantage to Paris for the second leg at the Parc des Princes on March 11.
However, PSG will be confident that they can turn the tie in their favour and go beyond the last 16 for the first time in four seasons on a ground that has seen them net 18 times in four games in 2020.