Real Madrid came from 2-0 down to thrash Liverpool 5-2 in Champions League last-16 first leg
Holders Real – who beat Liverpool in last season’s final in Paris – became the first side to score five at Anfield in Europe despite going two goals down early on as Liverpool made a dream start to this last-16 tie.
Darwin Nunez’s brilliant flick put Liverpool ahead after only four minutes before Mohamed Salah cashed in on Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ poor clearance to double their advantage 10 minutes later.
Liverpool’s supporters, who had vented their fury at being wrongly blamed for the chaos at last season’s final by holding up a flag emblazoned with “UEFA LIARS” and loudly jeering the Champions League anthem, were soon to have their thunderous celebrations silenced in emphatic fashion.
Vinicius Junior’s brilliant 21st-minute strike pulled a goal back before Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson followed Courtois’ lead by hacking a clearance straight at the Brazilian, holding his head in anguish as the ball looped behind him into the net in front of a disbelieving Kop.
It changed the whole emphasis of the contest, Real going ahead two minutes after the break when Eder Militao headed in Luka Modric’s free-kick.
Real then rammed home their superiority as Karim Benzema’s shot deflected in off Joe Gomez, the French striker then coolly adding a fifth after more brilliant work by the ageless Modric.
Liverpool have pulled off spectacular comebacks before, but it would be truly extraordinary if they turned this one around at the Bernabeu.
Liverpool brutally exposed
Liverpool made the start of their dreams as they rattled Real with their high-tempo play, getting the two goals they thought would provide the platform for a night of glory.
Instead, Anfield was reduced to near silence by the end as Jurgen Klopp’s side were reduced to chasing shadows in the face of Real’s imperious style and lethal threat in front of goal.
Liverpool did not help their cause with mistakes and dreadful defending, offering up invitations to a side of vast experience and world-class quality that is dangerous enough without being delivered gifts.
Alisson was guilty of an uncharacteristic error that saw Real draw level and you could visibly see the belief draining out of the side that has struck fear into opponents so many times at Anfield.
Militao’s routine header from a free-kick was also helped by poor marking while the unhappy Gomez was unfortunate to deflect in Benzema’s first.
The danger then was that Liverpool would concede even more as they barely raised a threat after the break.
Klopp will no doubt invoke the spirit of Barcelona in the 2019 Champions League semi-final – when Liverpool overcame a 3-0 first-leg deficit to advance with a stunning 4-0 win at Anfield – but this is not the same Liverpool, Real are not as flimsy as the Catalans and this time the second leg is in Spain.
If Liverpool somehow pull this one off, it would be one of the most spectacular feats in their history.
Ruthless Real show sheer class
Real’s run to winning the Champions League last season was full of moments when they looked to be in genuine strife, first against Chelsea then especially against Manchester City in the semi-final.
And yet, under the calm guidance and wisdom the great coach Carlo Ancelotti, Real held their nerve on those occasions to win, eventually lifting the trophy against the opponents they blew away at Anfield on Tuesday.
Vinicius was the catalyst in Paris and turned the game here, firing a shot cross past Alisson before closing down the keeper for Real’s second.
After that, Real were truly outstanding as they controlled possession, kept Liverpool at arm’s length with ease and put away those three second-half goals that put them in complete command of this tie.
Inspired by the two great veterans Modric and Benzema, Real have an iron belief that they will prevail and so it proved again.
Many sides would have subsided after going two goals down so soon but Real simply kept playing, confident their chances would come, and they did.
Ancelotti is too experienced to allow any complacency but he will know this is a truly outstanding result for any side to achieve at Anfield, even the Champions League holders.
Squad number27Player nameNúñezAverage rating
Squad number11Player nameMohamed SalahAverage rating
Squad number43Player nameBajceticAverage rating
Squad number26Player nameRobertsonAverage rating
Squad number18Player nameGakpoAverage rating
Squad number66Player nameAlexander-ArnoldAverage rating
Squad number4Player namevan DijkAverage rating
Squad number14Player nameHendersonAverage rating
Squad number1Player nameAlissonAverage rating
Squad number3Player nameFabinhoAverage rating
Squad number7Player nameMilnerAverage rating
Squad number9Player nameRoberto FirminoAverage rating
Squad number2Player nameGomezAverage rating
Squad number32Player nameMatipAverage rating
Squad number20Player nameDiogo JotaAverage rating
Squad number19Player nameElliottAverage rating
Squad number20Player nameVinícius JúniorAverage rating
Squad number9Player nameBenzemaAverage rating
Squad number10Player nameModricAverage rating
Squad number6Player nameNachoAverage rating
Squad number12Player nameCamavingaAverage rating
Squad number21Player nameRodrygoAverage rating
Squad number3Player nameÉder MilitãoAverage rating
Squad number15Player nameValverdeAverage rating
Squad number22Player nameRüdigerAverage rating
Squad number8Player nameKroosAverage rating
Squad number19Player nameDani CeballosAverage rating
Squad number11Player nameAsensioAverage rating
Squad number2Player nameCarvajalAverage rating
Squad number4Player nameAlabaAverage rating
Squad number1Player nameCourtoisAverage rating
- 2GomezSubstituted forMatipat 73’minutes
- 4van Dijk
- 14HendersonSubstituted forMilnerat 73’minutes
- 43BajceticSubstituted forElliottat 85’minutesBooked at 90mins
- 18GakpoSubstituted forFirminoat 64’minutes
- 27NúñezSubstituted forJotaat 64’minutes
- 4AlabaSubstituted forNachoat 27’minutes
- 10ModricSubstituted forKroosat 87’minutes
- 21RodrygoSubstituted forCeballosat 81’minutes
- 9BenzemaSubstituted forAsensioat 87’minutes
- 20Vinícius JúniorBooked at 60mins
- 7E Hazard
- István Kovács
Match ends, Liverpool 2, Real Madrid 5.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 2, Real Madrid 5.
Harvey Elliott (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Harvey Elliott (Liverpool).
Nacho (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Diogo Jota (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid).
Foul by Joël Matip (Liverpool).
Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Real Madrid. Toni Kroos replaces Luka Modric.
Substitution, Real Madrid. Marco Asensio replaces Karim Benzema.
Substitution, Liverpool. Harvey Elliott replaces Stefan Bajcetic.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Daniel Carvajal.
Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool).
Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Real Madrid. Dani Ceballos replaces Rodrygo.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Éder Militão.
James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid).
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Jordan Henderson.