Liverpool were once again beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League tonight, at Anfield. This time, the Spanish side came roaring back from a 2-goal deficit to rip the Reds apart by the final of 5-2. This gives Real a huge advantage in the 2-leg round of 16 series.
The Reds found themselves up 2-0 in the 14th minute but that would be the height of the evening. Real would come back to tie the game by halftime and then absolutely blitz Liverpool in the 2nd half.
El Galactico would be led back into the match by starlet, Vinicius Jr. in the first half. Then stalwart talisman Karim Benzema would take over in the second. What started as a dream start turned quickly into a nightmare for anyone who wears the Red of Liverpool tonight.
Liverpool find themselves on the verge of being eliminated from the Champions League. They will need multiple miracles in the 2nd leg at the Bernabeu in Madrid on the 15th of March.
For all the hype going into this match, the first half did not disappoint. The teams combined for 4 goals, each side had a fantastic one, and each side had an ugly one that was mostly their own goalkeepers' fault.
Liverpool struck first in the 4th minute. Darwin Núñez finished Mohamed Salah's service with a brilliant backheel flick past Real goalkeeper, Thibault Courtois. Darwin's run behind Real defender, Eder Militao was perfectly timed, his finish was highlight-reel quality, and he showed no effects from his reported shoulder injury.
The Reds seemed to grab the game by the throat in the 14th minute by capitalizing on the first massive goalkeeping blunder of the first half. Their second goal came through Courtois mishandling a backpass from his defender. He kneed it straight into the path of Mohamed Salah.
Salah slotted the ball home for his 44th European goal. That is a new all-time record for European goals as a Red. He passes the great Steven Gerrard as Liverpool's top man for goals in all European competitions.
The Reds' lead started to shrink just 6 minutes later. Real's superstar in the making, forward Vinicius Jr. would score a wondergoal to cut Liverpool's lead in half. The Brazilian, with Liverpool defenders all around, struck the ball low and hard, putting it just past Alisson and inside the far post.
Vinicius Jr. would not be finished. In the 36th minute, it was Alisson's turn to join the howler party. Just minutes after an amazing save off a rampant Vinicius Jr. the Liverpool keeper mishandled a back pass from Joe Gomez. While trying to get the ball back to Gomez, he kicked the ball off Vinicius Jr's leg and helplessly watched it loop into his net.
The second half is when it would all fall apart for Liverpool. Real Madrid would score three goals to put the Reds out of their misery. In the 47th minute, the defender that Núñez shook, Militao, would get his revenge by heading home a Luka Modric corner to give Madrid the lead.
They would not look back. In the 55th, Karim Benzema would score the first of his two goals. The big French striker's shot took a big enough deflection off Joe Gomez that for a minute we thought it was an own goal. It didn't matter, the Reds were down 4-2.
Finally, Benzema would turn out the lights in the 67th minute by finishing El Galatico's fast break. He coolly slotted home Real's 5th goal on a counterattack that absolutely gutted Liverpool.
Liverpool's defenders were god-awful tonight. Vincius Jr. ran at Trent Alexander-Arnold again and again, and the wingback had no answers. Joe Gomez also did his part with just a brutal effort in the centre-back position.
LFC Globe Verdict
The night started so wonderfully. Darwin's goal was sublime. The Egyptian King took hold of another club goal scoring record. And then… it all fell apart. Sure, Real Madrid are an amazing football team but capitulating as the Reds did in the second half was brutal.
This loss doesn't eliminate them from the Champions League just yet, but, it feels like they've already gone. And with their position in the Premier League at the moment, it doesn't feel like they'll be back in Europe's greatest club competition next year. Tonight was a total disaster. A very low point in a very challenging season.
Man of the Match and What's Next
The Man of the Match was Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr. He led Real back when they were down in the first half, and he continued to menace the Liverpool backline all night. If we have to give a MOTM to a Liverpool player, I'll say it was Mo Salah. He assisted on the Reds' first goal and passed Stevie G for all-time European goals leader on the second.
Up next, Liverpool travel to South London to play Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday. It is a late kick-off, 19:45 and LFC Globe will have extensive coverage of the match. The 2nd leg of the round of 16 will be on the 15th of March if you even want to watch it.
- Nunez 4'
- Salah 14'
- Vinicius Jr. 20'
- Vinicius Jr. 36'
- E. Militao 47'
- Benzema 55'
- Benzema 67'
- Jota for Nunez 64'
- Firmino for Gakpo 64'
- Matip for Gomez 73'
- Milner for Henderson 73'
- Elliott for Bajcetic 85'
- Nacho for David Alba 27'
- Dani Ceballos for Rodrygo 81'
- Asensio for Benzema 87'
- Kroos for Modric 87'
- Elliott 90+3' (Yellow)
- Vinicius Jr. 60' (Yellow)