Madrid: 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.
The Uruguay striker fluffed an attempted header in the ninth minute at a boisterous Calderon stadium but his follow-up effort evaded goalkeeper Pepe Reina and defender Jamie Carragher and squeezed just inside the post.
Liverpool`s journey to the Spanish capital via Paris had taken 24 hours due to airspace restrictions and the Premier League side, missing former Atletico striker Fernando Torres, struggled to build any momentum after falling behind.
Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez fielded a cautious-looking starting team, with defensive midfielders Lucas and Javier Mascherano both included and David N`Gog alone up front.
Reina twice saved them from falling further behind in the second half. The Spaniard pulled off a fine reflex stop to deny Simao Sabrosa and later 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.