(CNN) -- Liverpool's marathon journey to Madrid has ended in a narrow defeat as Diego Forlan's early goal gave Atletico a slender 1-0 Europa League semifinal first leg lead on Thursday.
The English Premier League side took a 1,200-mile trip by coach, train and plane to get to the Vincente Calderon stadium, but came away with nothing to show from a tight encounter.
Forlan, who spent an unsuccessful spell at Liverpool's bitter rivals Manchester United earlier in his career, netted the only goal in the ninth minute.
The Uruguayan striker missed his initial header from Jose Manuel Jurado's cross -- but he stil had enough time to prod the ball past goalkeeper Jose Reina from close-range, with Jamie Carragher failing in a desperate attempt to clear the ball off the line.
Liverpool should have levelled eight minutes later when Yossi Benayoun fired home, but he was wrongly flagged for offside.
Reina then rescued Liverpool early in the second half when producing a superb one-handed save to keep out Forlan's angled drive from the left.
However, Liverpool held on and they take a one-goal deficit back to Anfield in the knowledge that in 16 previous European semifinfinal matches, they have lost only four overall.
Liverpool could still face Premier League rivals Fulham in an all-English final after the London side drew 0-0 at Hamburg in the other semifinal encounter.
Hamburg are desperate to reach the final, which is being played on their home ground, but they found Fulham's Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in fine form.