Liverpool FC 1-1 Club Atlético de Madrid
Steven Gerrard's penalty five minutes into added time earned the hosts a share of the Group D spoils following Maxi Rodríguez's first-half opener.
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Steven Gerrard's penalty five minutes into added time earned Liverpool FC a share of the Group D spoils, denying Club Atlético de Madrid a famous victory at Anfield.
The Spanish side looked to have sealed progress to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages as they led through Maxi Rodríguez's 37th-minute opener, but Liverpool, and Gerrard in particular, can never be discounted. Atlético had put up stout resistance to mounting pressure from the hosts until Mariano Pernía fouled Gerrard in the box. The England international midfielder is a past master at late interventions and duly sent Leo Franco the wrong way to grab a late, late equaliser.
Both sets of supporters were disappointed by the absence of star strikers Fernando Torres and Sergio Agüero in the starting lineups, though the latter was fit enough for a place on the visitors' substitutes. The game was not short of pace, however. Liverpool forced a corner after a mere 40 seconds and had a great chance to snatch an early lead. Fábio Aurélio swung the corner in and Robbie Keane forced the ball on to Daniel Agger, but the Danish defender could not connect properly.
Keane got much better purchase on a glorious 35-metre pass by Xabi Alonso on 15 minutes but, meeting it on the bounce, he fired narrowly wide. Atlético almost broke through at the other end four minutes later after Diego Forlán set up Mariano Pernía to cross invitingly for Simão, whose instant shot from close range failed to match the approach play, sailing over the bar.
The opener, when it came for Atlético eight minutes before half-time, was a work of art worthy of Madrid's Prado Museum. Simplicity itself, the move began with a searching long pass from centre-back John Heitinga, which was beautifully controlled by Antonio López on the right flank and, when he crossed to Maxi, one touch by the Argentinian took it past Jamie Carragher before he drilled in low to Pepe Reina's right.
Liverpool were visibly sharper as the second half unfolded. Agger was in the thick of things for the English side as he ventured forward again, glancing a header just over the top from Fábio Aurélio's free-kick. Remarkably, the Danish centre-back appeared to be Liverpool's most dangerous weapon, even if his volley from an unmarked position in the box was easily gathered by Leo Franco. A quick one-two between Gerrard and Keane almost unlocked the door on 70 minutes, but the Liverpool skipper's shot was too high while Agger again went close with a header.
Atlético introduced Agüero to little effect yet seemed to have weathered the storm, until Gerrard intervened to ensure a repeat of the 1-1 scoreline between these sides a fortnight ago. The teams remain level at the Group D summit, a healthy five points clear of Olympique de Marseille and PSV Eindhoven.