Real Madrid humiliate Liverpool, expose right-side defenders

LIVERPOOL, England — Real Madrid left Liverpool getting ready to Champions League elimination after combating again from a two-goal deficit to win 5-2 in a traditional sport at Anfield.

Reigning European champions Real Madrid had fallen 2-0 down inside 14 minutes after objectives from Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah. But two Vinicius Junior objectives hauled the Spanish aspect degree earlier than half-time and Real Madrid pulled clear within the second-half with a Eder Militao header and two strikes from Karim Benzema.

This is a end result that can sit excessive even in Real Madrid’s illustrious corridor of fame — however it would even be unforgettable for all of the incorrect causes for Liverpool, who suffered their biggest-ever Champions League defeat, conceding 5 objectives for his or her first time within the competitors’s historical past.

Rapid response

1. Real Madrid humiliate Liverpool in a Champions League traditional

Liverpool supervisor Jurgen Klopp was proper to talk in tones of reverence about Real Madrid previous to this Champions League tie. He had stated that no different staff might win fairly like Real when the percentages are stacked towards them, and he was proved proper because the reigning European champions surprised his staff at Anfield on Tuesday.

It had seemed like being one other historic Champions League night time for Liverpool once they raced right into a 2-0 lead inside 14 minutes. Having made Anfield such a fortress in Europe through the years, Liverpool appeared odds-on for a decisive first-leg win.

But Real are in contrast to some other staff. The overwhelming majority of groups would have crumbled at 2-0 down, however in contrast to Barcelona in 2019 — who noticed a 3-0 semifinal first-leg lead blown away in a 4-0 defeat right here — Real turned a misplaced trigger right into a profitable one to inflict Liverpool’s biggest-ever Champions League loss.

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At 2-0 down, Real did not let panic set in. They simply calmly held their nerve, realizing that possibilities would come to claw their means again into the sport. Just like final season, once they overturned equally bleak conditions towards Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, Real backed their high quality and expertise, and it paid off in spectacular trend.

Vinicius Junior’s two objectives within the twenty first and twenty sixth minutes, hauled them degree earlier than Eder Militao headed Real into the lead on 47 minutes. And from that time on, there was no trying again. Two extra objectives from Karim Benzema sealed a 5-2 win to place Real in command forward of the second-leg in Madrid subsequent month.

In years to come back, this win will nonetheless sting for Liverpool as a lot as it will likely be remembered in Madrid. So many groups have seen their European hopes crushed at a raucous Anfield through the years, however this Real Madrid staff is fabricated from sterner stuff and so they confirmed that Anfield is not fairly so scary in any case.

2. Vini Jr. proves his credentials as a famous person

Manchester United ahead Marcus Rashford would possibly simply have some competitors for the title of the most popular participant in Europe proper now from Vinicius Junior.

The Real Madrid winger is definitely the largest thorn in Liverpool’s aspect having taken his tally towards them to 5 objectives in 5 video games. No participant has scored extra objectives towards Liverpool within the Champions League than Vinicius Junior, who additionally scored the winner in Real’s 1-0 victory towards Liverpool staff in final season’s Champions League ultimate in Paris.

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Rashford’s sizzling streak at Manchester United — with 16 objectives in 17 video games because the World Cup — has fairly rightly led to him being acclaimed as one of the best ahead within the sport at this second in time. But Vini Jr.’s efficiency at Anfield was sensational and, with it being on the Champions League stage, it was arguably extra spectacular than something Rashford has managed throughout his current run.

Vini Jr. now has 18 objectives in 35 video games for Real Madrid this season after changing into the youngest participant to attain twice towards Liverpool in a European sport at Anfield since Johan Cruyff for Ajax in 1966.

In this sport, he was devastating down Real left, scoring twice within the first-half to cancel out Liverpool’s early 2-0 lead. He then continued his damaging efficiency by enjoying a key position in subsequent objectives for Eder Militao and Karim Benzema.

Considering all the off-field challenges that Vini Jr. continues to face in Spain following a collection of racist incidents towards him, his capacity to provide such prime quality efficiency is a testomony to the 22-year-old’s braveness and resolve.

But he’s additionally a world-class footballer, and no one is enjoying higher than he’s.

3. Liverpool’s right-side weak spot in defence responsible

When Liverpool had been torn aside in a 4-1 defeat towards Napoli within the group stage, the Serie A leaders received by focusing on Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez on the proper aspect of Liverpool’s defence.

Having achieved the identical to win the Champions League ultimate in Paris final 12 months, it was no shock that Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti used the identical tactic at Anfield, with Vinicius Junior repeatedly tormenting each Liverpool defenders. The end result on Tuesday was one other loss by three objectives, equaling Liverpool’s largest dropping margin within the Champions League, albeit by conceding a club-record 5 objectives within the competitors.

Quite merely, Europe’s finest coaches know precisely the place Liverpool’s greatest weak spot lies: the proper aspect of their defence.

Real’s first three objectives at Anfield got here straight from that aspect of the pitch, with Alexander-Arnold always abandoning his defensive duties to depart Gomez remoted towards the tempo and power of Vini Jr.

Gomez is a confidence participant. He solely appears to have highs or lows, with nothing in between, and this was a low night time. His back-pass to goalkeeper Alisson Becker, when underneath strain from Vini Jr., led to Alisson kicking the ball towards the Vini Jr. and into the web. With the Real Madrid ahead on his shoulder, Gomez ought to have gone security first and cleared for a throw-in.

And early within the second-half, a Gomez foul on the Real ahead — after Alexander-Arnold had stood and watched like a statue — led to the free-kick from which Eder Militao headed Real in entrance for the primary time within the sport.

It was a type of nightmare video games for Liverpool’s defenders and by the point Karim Benzema scored Real’s fourth with a shot which deflected in off Gomez, you would solely really feel sorry for the embattled centre-half.

Best and worst performers

Best: Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid

Outstanding match-winning efficiency from the Real ahead. Five objectives in 5 video games towards Liverpool now.

Best: Luka Modric, Real Madrid

Is he actually 37-years-old? The Real midfielder managed the sport and gave a masterclass of calm composure when his staff fell 2-0 down early within the sport.

Best: Eder Militao, Real Madrid

A rock on the again for Real and scored a giant objective early within the second-half to place his staff forward.

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Worst: Joe Gomez, Liverpool

Just could not address Vinicius Junior. The Liverpool defender ought to have been taken off at half-time to take him out of the firing line.

Worst: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool

No longer the attacking outlet that struck worry into opponents, so his defensive shortcomings at the moment are an issue for Liverpool.

Worst: Jordan Henderson, Liverpool

Outrun and outclassed by Real Madrid’s majestic midfielders. An incredible servant, however previous his finest at this degree.

Highlights and notable moments

This match obtained off to a rip-roaring begin and by no means let go.

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez scored in simply the fourth minute to set the powder keg of this round-of-16 Champions league match alight, and he did it in fashion.

Then it was Mohamed Salah’s flip to attain one other for Liverpool.

If Nunez’s was an instance of particular person brilliance in execution, this objective was fairly the other as Salah capitalised on a wierd Thibaut Courtois mistake the place the goalkeeper whiffed on dribbling together with his ft.

Just as Liverpool gave the impression to be cruising in entrance of their followers at Anfield, Vinícius Júnior scored a sensational objective from lengthy vary to tug one again for Real Madrid.

The weirdness of this match continued on.

Following the lead of Courtois on the other finish, Alisson additionally made a mistake, making an attempt to punt the ball into an on-running Vini Jr., who unwittingly knocked the ball again inside Alisson’s web.

Phew — that was rather a lot. And but, there have been nonetheless one other three objectives from Real Madrid to make the ultimate results of 5-2.

To go from a 2-0 deficit to a 5-2 win is one thing, and the primary 4 objectives of the match, with all of their electrical energy earlier than Real Madrid ran away with the win, served because the clear highlights.

After the match: What the managers and gamers stated

Real Madrid supervisor Carlo Ancelotti on the end result: “It wasn’t easy, especially when looking at how the game went. We didn’t lose our confidence and little by little we took command of the game. We defended better while always being efficient up front. Vinicius played an incredible game. The first leg has gone well and we have to be calm — we know we will have to fight and suffer in the next return leg just as we did today.”

Real Madrid ahead Karim Benzema on the end result: We showed personality, scored goals. We want this Champions League. It was a beautiful game. We didn’t start well. After 15 minutes, we saw Real Madrid. Football is difficult always. They started the game better than us, backed by the support of their fans. We knew we had to do more and we did it until the end.”

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Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on the end result: “This is not the Liverpool of last season to be honest. It’s more vulnerable. We can’t relax — we are one of the favourites to win [the Champions League] but there are also other teams. We will see how far we can go.”

Liverpool supervisor Jurgen Klopp on dealing with Real Madrid once more within the second leg: “We will go there, we will play a football game. It’s not the best start and the best basis for it — we didn’t create that tonight. Obviously everyone saw tonight how good they are on the counterattack if we have to score goals there. In their own stadium, each single counterattack can be the decider. So it will be a massive challenge, but there’s time. Until then we have to play in the Premier League, we have to recover and make sure we take the right things from this game and the rest we have to learn from as well.”

Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Information analysis)

  • This is the primary time Liverpool have conceded 5 objectives in a Champions League match. This is the second time Liverpool have conceded 5 objectives in a European cup sport after a 5-1 loss to Ajax within the 1966-67 European Cup.

  • Real Madrid are the primary staff Opta has on report (since 2003-04) to attain 5 objectives in a UEFA Champions League match regardless of having fewer than 10 photographs within the match. (Real Madrid had 9 photographs.)

  • Vinícius Júnior breaks a tie with Karim Benzema for probably the most objectives scored for the membership in all competitions this season, 18. He additionally turned the main objective scorer towards Liverpool in Champions League with 5 objectives.

  • Vinícius Júnior is the second-youngest visiting participant to attain two objectives at Anfield towards Liverpool in main European competitors after Johan Cruyff.

  • Karim Benzema has 11 objectives in 11 video games since after the World Cup break. By comparability, he scored six objectives in his 12 video games pre-World Cup this season.

  • Darwin Núñez has scored in 4 straight UEFA Champions League knockout stage video games courting again to final season — he is solely ever failed to attain in a single Champions League knockout match wherein he is performed.

  • Mohamed Salah has scored in a career-high six consecutive Champions League matches. He is the highest scorer within the Champions League this season with eight objectives. He ties Didier Drogba for the Twelfth-most objectives in Champions League historical past (44).

  • Mohamed Salah’s 10 objective contributions (eight objectives, two assists) within the Champions League this season are tied with Kylian Mbappé (seven objectives, three assists) for probably the most by any participant.

  • Stefan Bajcetic turned the youngest participant (18 years, 122 days) to start out a Champions League match for Liverpool.

  • Real Madrid are the one Spanish membership on this Champions league knockout stage, the fewest from Spain since 1998-99, which additionally had one.

Up subsequent

Liverpool: The Reds resume their Premier League marketing campaign once they go to Crystal Palace on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:45 p.m. ET. The second leg towards Real Madrid will happen in Spain on Wednesday, March 15 at 4 p.m. ET.

Real Madrid: Los Blancos resume their LaLiga marketing campaign towards Atletico Madrid on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 12:30 p.m. ET (stream reside on ESPN+). Then, Real Madrid host Barcelona within the first leg of the Spanish Copa del Rey on Thursday, March 2 (stream reside on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET). Real Madrid host Liverpool for the second leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie on Wednesday, March 15.