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‘It’s the Spanish football way’ – Van Dijk bemoans Atletico tactics in Liverpool defeat

The Reds lost 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie but the Dutchman is remaining positive

Virgil van Dijk put Liverpool‘s 1-0 Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid down to bad luck and bemoaned what he determined to be typical Spanish tactics deployed by the hosts.

Saul Niguez’s early strike in Tuesday’s Champions League clash gave Atletico a slender lead to take into the return fixture against holders Liverpool at Anfield on March 11.

Saul poked home from close range with four minutes played after a corner fell kindly into his path and Diego Simeone’s Atletico kept their advantage intact in the Spanish capital.

Reigning champions Liverpool dominated possession in Madrid but failed to register a single attempt on target, with Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson squandering their best chances.

Despite the defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano, however, defender Van Dijk is remaining upbeat ahead of the second leg in a little over three weeks’ time.

“We conceded the goal from the corner, first chance for them, not even a chance. Bit of luck,” he told BT Sport .

“The message at half-time was to keep playing. We had the ball most of the game but unfortunately could not create massive opportunities. We still have another 90 minutes to set it right.

“It is the way they play. It is a bit of the Spanish football as well and you have to adapt but we knew it and I feel we handled it pretty well.”

Echoing his team-mate’s views, full-back Andy Robertson felt the wild celebrations in the stands at full-time were premature given Liverpool’s impressive home record.

“We put in a decent performance and we know we can be better. We’ve got a second leg to put it right,” Robertson said.

“They celebrated as if they won the tie after the game. They are coming to Anfield and we know our fans will be there.

“We gave them the best possible start and that get the fans behind them and then they start falling over and getting under the skin a bit.”

Liverpool will now switch their attention back to the Premier League, as they edge closer to a first title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are 25 points clear of reigning champions Manchester City having gone unbeaten in their last 43 matches.

The Reds will welcome West Ham to Anfield on Monday, five days before they take in a trip to Watford.

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