Keita the enigma

At least Naby Keita managed three more minutes than on his last visit to Madrid.

After the Liverpool midfielder was given the hook before half-time of the harrowing Champions League quarter-final first leg at Real Madrid's training ground in April, debate was sparked over whether he would ever again appear under Jurgen Klopp.

Last season he did not. But a summer revival and subsequent encouraging performances mean the only reason eyebrows were raised at his inclusion in the starting line-up against Atletico was that it represented a fourth start in 11 days for club and country.

When, on 13 minutes, Keita connected with Felipe's panicked clearance to thrash home a volley from 18 yards to put Liverpool two goals ahead, his selection appeared wholly vindicated.

But then, while the midfielder continued to pick holes in the Atletico lines, came the counter-argument as Keita's defensive weaknesses were twice exposed.

First, he lost Thomas Lemar at a short corner for the Spaniards' first goal, while he was too easily outfought by Joao Felix in the build-up to the second.

It was no surprise, then, when Keita failed to appear for the second half, Fabinho brought on to solidify a defensively wobbling midfield.

One thing hasn't changed, though. More than three years after arriving at Anfield, Keita remains very much an enigma.

PLAYER RATINGS: Alisson excellent and Mohamed Salah good in win over Atletico

MOTM: Vote for your Liverpool star against Atletico Madrid

The ECHO are celebrating Mohamed Salah's Liverpool Premier League goals from 1 to 100 with a special souvenir publication - and Reds fans can get a copy now!

For only £2.50 you will receive the 'Salah - Our Egyptian King' edition as well as a free glossy poster.

It is available in most supermarkets and newsagents across Merseyside and North Wales - or online by clicking here.

Salah helps prove Klopp wrong

It may not have been his best game of the season. But Madrid got to see up close exactly why Mohamed Salah is being touted as the world's best player.

And the records keep tumbling for the Egyptian, whose fine opening goal made him the first player in Liverpool history to score in nine successive matches.

There was a trademark cut infield off the right flank that saw him sprint, shimmy and feint his way beyond Carrasco, Thomas Lemar and Koke before his shot deflected in off Geoffrey Kondogbia.

Then, having failed with his last spot kick in the group opener against AC Milan, he banished any doubts from 12 yards by smashing home a penalty for the winner with 12 minutes remaining for his 12th strike in 11 games this season.

It took him on to 31 goals in 48 appearances in Europe's premier competition, surpassing the previous club record of Steven Gerrard.

And it also helped prove Jurgen Klopp wrong in his pre-match assertion.

"Scoring three goals against Atletico is not likely," the Reds boss had said. "I'm not sure they have ever conceded three goals at home to be honest!"

The last time was actually against Real Madrid in 2019, with their only previous home European defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano coming against Chelsea more than four years ago.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have extended their astonishing scoring record to at least three goals in their last eight away games. Next on the road? Old Trafford on Sunday. Oh yes.

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Alisson proves worth

You could take the rest of the week trying to decipher exactly what went on during a crazy, memorable encounter in Madrid.

But amid all the madness, there was one undeniable truth.

Liverpool owe this victory to Alisson Becker.

The Brazilian was infamously absent when the Reds were dumped out of the Champions League in a five-goal thriller against Atletico Madrid in March 2020, fingers pointed at his deputy Adrian after extra-time mistakes proved costly.

And while Alisson was twice beaten by Antoine Griezmann, his succession of saves meant Liverpool remained in contention as they looked in danger of wilting in the red-hot Wanda Metropolitano atmosphere.

They were decent, too, not least a first-half stop when Griezmann was clean through, and another brave effort to deny Yannick Carrasco after the break.

Defensively, Liverpool had a collective off-night. Trent Alexander-Arnold was too often left exposed, Virgil van Dijk was rarely comfortable, Joel Matip was affected by the general malaise and, ahead of them, the midfield was too easily bypassed until Fabinho helped bring at least some security.

Perhaps it's that gaudy yellow kit, previously worn in the 3-3 draw at Brentford last month.

But if Alisson wasn't needed in the weekend romp at Watford, his value was emphatically underlined here.