Simao pegs Liverpool back
© AFP

A late slip cost Liverpool dear in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League group match at Atletico Madrid as Portuguese winger Simao struck an 83rd minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

Irish international Robbie Keane, yet to score in the English Premier League, had put the visitors ahead in the 14th minute for his second Champions League goal at the Vicente Calderon stadium.

The 83rd minute goal for Simao, whom the Merseysiders tried to sign two years ago, was a blow for Liverpool although both they and Atletico have seven points from nine in Group D.

Atletico and Liverpool, who both lost their 100 per cent European records, face off again in the next group match at Anfield on 4 November.

"We had chances but we didn't finish the game," said Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez. "We tried to be too precise, tried to give the perfect pass and didn't finish when we should have done."

Keane, who squandered a chance to add a second goal, said the team was happy with a point.  "We dominated in the first half but in the second half they made it difficult for us," said the Irishman. "All in all, we are happy with the point."

It is a big week for Liverpool who have a title tussle with co-leaders Chelsea on Sunday.

With Atletico old boy Torres, who captained the club at the tender age of 19, missing with a hamstring injury, Benitez started with a 4-5-1 formation with Keane as the target man.

Surprisingly Dirk Kuyt - the match winner in a 3-2 win over Wigan Athletic on Saturday - was left on the substitutes' bench with Javier Mascherano taking his place.

For Benitez it was a return to his hometown of Madrid and Liverpool had four Spaniards - the same number as Atletico - in their starting line-up in Pepe Reina, Xabi Alonso, Albert Riera and Alvaro Arbeloa.

Atletico, reeling from their weekend derby defeat to Real Madrid, handed a debut to 19-year-old defender Alvaro Dominguez with Tomas Ujfalusi out injured.

Sergio 'Kun' Aguero was on the bench with coach Javier Aguirre claiming the Argentine was tired and former Liverpool man Florent Sinama Pongolle started in attack.

Reunion in Madrid
Pongolle was not the only old boy on show with Luis Garcia, a 2005 Champions League winner with Liverpool, a surprise starter.

This was Atletico's biggest European night since 19 March 1997 - when they were ousted by Ajax in the Champions League quarter-final - and there was a red-hot atmosphere at the Calderon.

UEFA had threatened to switch the match to a different venue after the trouble in Marseille but fortunately there was no repeat.

After conceding early goals in their previous two matches Atletico were probably relieved to be 0-0 after 10 minutes but then Keane struck after a slick pass from Steven Gerrard.

Atletico were toothless with the fans chanting for Aguero and Reina had virtually nothing to do in the first half with a shot from Diego Forlan the hosts' best attempt.

Aguero came on at the start of the second half for Garcia, who had no impact against his ex-employer, as the home side went with three strikers.

Three minutes after the break Liverpool had the ball in the net again but it was ruled out for offside.

Atletico had the same thing happen to them and then on 56 minutes Simao hit the post but the ball rebounded to Reina.

Simao then equalised with a sweet strike and both sides could have won it in the closing stages.