Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan scored the only goal in their first leg clash against Liverpool to defeat the English side 1-0 in the Europa League semi-final. Elsewhere, the Hamburg and Fulham match ended 0-0.
REUTERS - Diego Forlan scrambled an early goal to give Atletico Madrid a deserved 1-0 win over a lethargic-looking Liverpool in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday.
The Uruguay striker fluffed an attempted header but his follow-up effort evaded goalkeeper Pepe Reina and defender Jamie Carragher in the ninth minute at a boisterous Calderon stadium.
Reina pulled off a fine reflex save to deny Simao Sabrosa early in the second period and flung himself to his right to block a powerful Tomas Ujfalusi strike as dominant Atletico pressed for a second goal.
"We are happy but we know that we have to play another 90 minutes and it's going to be difficult," Forlan said in a television interview.
"It's going to be hard. They play well at Anfield and they are a very strong side," added Forlan, who scored two goals for his former club Manchester United to win a Premier League match at Liverpool's home ground in 2002.
After a minute's silence for former International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who died on Wednesday, Atletico seized early control.
Liverpool, five-times European champions, appeared sluggish, perhaps as a result of their 24-hour 2000-kilometre journey to the Spanish capital by train and plane due to airspace restrictions caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
The English side's only real chance of the first half came in the 19th minute when captain Steven Gerrard raced clear but his left-foot strike under pressure flew well wide.
Atletico, who have struggled in La Liga but are also through to the King's Cup final, twice went close to extending their lead in the second period.
Ujfalusi sent a looping cross over from the right and Spaniard Reina flung out a hand to palm Portugal winger Simao's crisp half volley away before the keeper denied the Czech defender with another acrobatic save.
The return leg is at Anfield next Thursday. The winners play Hamburg SV or Fulham in the final on May 12.
Date created : 2010-04-23