Liverpool huff and puff but can't blow Atleti down as Simeone's side win the Audi Cup on penalties

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The Merseysiders toiled against more obstructive opponents in the Audi Cup final, with Diego Simeone's men winning the tournament 5-4 on penalties


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The real moment of animation arrived well after the final whistle, away from the pitch, and was communicated via Twitter. Antoine Griezmann posted a message of thanks to Daniel Sturridge for acceding to a request for a signed shirt, which included a picture of both players happily posing together at the Allianz Arena.

The tweet is en route to becoming viral, and that it was the most thrilling aspect of Wednesday night will be most pleasing to Diego Simeone.

Atletico Madrid won the Audi Cup 5-4 on penalties having been typically uncompromising, and well, colourless.

The intoxication of Liverpool’s attacking blurs against Bayern Munich was substituted by the soberness of the sedate football, on the same turf, 24 hours later.

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Atleti were never going to make the same mistakes as the Bundesliga champions, who were too expansive and as such, opened themselves up to a 3-0 embarrassment by the Reds on Tuesday night.

As expected, Simeone’s men proved more obstructive opponents, restricting Liverpool’s space, closing down passing lanes and promoting a more physical game.

"Atletico wanted to win the cup. We did also, but we also wanted to play football. Atletico only wanted to win the cup,” Jurgen Klopp, who rested Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah for the encounter among others, pointed out afterwards.

HD Danny Ward Jon Flanagan

"It was a completely different job to do from the Bayern game. Atleti left the game to us and said ‘come on.'"

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Beyond a Dominic Solanke header that was directed narrowly wide after fine work by Ben Woodburn and Sadio Mane, the Merseysiders failed to disrupt Atleti’s diligence without the ball in the opening 45 minutes.

They had been the more ambitious side during the opening half hour, without really worrying the La Liga outfit, whose commitment to slowing down games even in pre-season is admirable.

A weakness that foiled them during last season - failing to break down deep, compact defences - caused further frustration here.

And other flaw saw Liverpool floored on 33 minutes. Passiveness from the entire backline resulted in Sime Vrsaljko being allowed to cross under no pressure, with Angel Correa also free to execute a volley, which Danny Ward did brilliantly to deny. Keidi Bare reacted quickest to head in the rebound while Jon Flanagan, Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan and James Milner watched on.

HD Atletico Madrid celebrate

The full-backs had a particularly nightmarish half, offering too little going forward and clearly second best the opposite way with both replaced after the break.

“In the first half, we had a few nice moments where we had some good crosses,” Klopp noted.

“It was really tight, but when we conceded we didn’t think straight away and the formation wasn’t 100 per cent.

“One lost challenge with a header shouldn’t mean you go behind. In the second half, we played much better but the situation continued to be very difficult.

Report: LFC lose 5-4 on penalties

“The only [bad] thing that happened here today was the goal we conceded.”

Liverpool, to their credit, never gave up on getting an equaliser. Their persistence was rewarded on 82 minutes when Gabi made contact with Divock Origi inside the area and Roberto Firmino fired in the subsequent spot-kick to force a shootout.

HD Jurgen Klopp Liverpool

The Brazilian then converted the first penalty, with the Belgian striker, Ryan Kent and Marko Grujic also successful. Jordan Henderson’s effort was saved and was the difference between the sides as Atleti buried all five of theirs.

“If you get to a shootout you want to win it, but that's not the important situation that we have today,” Klopp said.

“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.

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“We've really trained hard, the boys have been great about it and done everything I've expected from them. We've had a very intensive programme, so that's why I am very, very happy with it.

"We didn't have freshness today, but we still have one-and-a-half weeks until our first game [at Watford].

"That's the time we need to prepare for it. I am satisfied with how it is. It's very easy – next season we want to be as good as we can possibly be. We want to be better than last year, which isn't easy, but we don't set any limits to ourselves.”

Liverpool will face more tests in the disobliging mould of Atleti's approach rather than Bayern's openness in the Premier League next season and while they lost the shootout, they've gained precious preparation for the frustrating fixtures to come.

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