UCL: Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool. Vinicius Junior’s double inspires Zinedine Zidane’s side to first-leg win over Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Liverpool are going to need another one of their Champions League miracles.
Jurgen Klopp’s side find themselves in a pothole, after being beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final clash on Tuesday night.
Two goals from Vinicius Junior and one from Marco Asensio did the damage for Zinedine Zidane’s men on the Reds, although Mo Salah’s away goal offers a glimpse of hope for the Reds ahead of next week’s return fixture at Anfield.
They will have to come up with a better performance if they are to salvage their hopes of a seventh European crown. This was a chastening night in the Spanish capital, a night when all their old frailties were exposed by a Madrid side chasing a record 14th triumph in the competition.
Liverpool started the game confidently, revitalized by a recent uptick in form and a new-found solidity and intensity and boosted from their recent win against Arsenal in a league match on Saturday.
The score line was the same, and so was the pattern, Liverpool losing possession too often and punished for their errors, both individual and collectively.
After a sluggish start from Jurgen Klopp’s team, Vinicius Junior exploit to convert Toni Kroos’ exquisite long pass to give Real Madrid a deserved 27th-minute lead.
Liverpool’s night got even worse when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s poor header gifted Real Madrid a second, Marco Asensio lifting the ball over Alisson Becker and into the back of the net 11 minutes before the interval.
The score line was 2-0 at the break and having failed to register a single shot, on or off target. The last time that happened in the first time of a Champions League game was November 2014, away to Real Madrid.
The last time they conceded twice in the first half of a Champions League game was the 2005 against Milan in Istanbul.
Klopp hooked Keita before the break, but he could have chosen any number of targets. Fabinho was awful, Trent Alexander-Arnold was exposed, while the front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota were inactive.
Salah’s goal, six minutes into the second half, raised hope of a comeback, but it was a fleeting high. As quickly as they had won back some control, Liverpool lost it again.
Vinicius, the game’s stand out player along with the ageless Kroos, squeezed one past Alisson and Real’s two-goal advantage was restored.
At least it did not get any worse for the Reds, although it may well have done had Real been a little more clinical on the counter.
Liverpool ended the game messy, their shape gone and their substitutes unable to have any kind of meaningful impact.
They will still feel they are in the tie. They have overturned bigger deficits than this, of course. Never, though, have they had to do so without the backing of their home supporters. The power of Anfield will be turned down significantly next week.
Real Madrid have one foot in the semi-finals after an incredible performance against Liverpool that see them win the match 3-1.