Liverpool were sensationally beaten 5-2 by Real Madrid despite being two goals up early in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg at Anfield.
Vinicius Junior scored twice before the interval to cancel out Liverpool’s early advantage and three unanswered goals in the second half – two of them scored by Karim Benzema – condemned Jurgen Klopp’s side to their heaviest home defeat in Champions League history.
The Reds had threatened to overwhelm the world champions, their conquerors in the Champions League final in May, during a blistering opening period. Darwin Nunez’s flick put them in front inside four minutes before Mohamed Salah seized on a Thibaut Courtois error.
Liverpool: Alisson (4); Alexander-Arnold (5), Gomez (3), Van Dijk (6), Robertson (6); Henderson (6), Fabinho (5), Bajcetic (6); Salah (6), Nunez (6), Gakpo (5).
Subs: Firmino (6), Jota (5), Milner (6), Matip (6), Elliott (n/a).
Real Madrid: Courtois (4); Carvajal (6), Militao (7), Rudiger (6), Alaba (5); Camavinga (6), Modric (8), Valverde (6), Rodrygo (7); Benzema (9), Vinicius (9).
Subs: Nacho (7), Ceballos (6), Kroos (n/a), Asensio (n/a).
Player of the match: Vinicius Junior
With Real Madrid rocking, they instead showed that characteristic quality and calm, Vinicius rifling the ball low into the far corner of Alisson’s net to pull one back, before the goalkeeper replicated the mistake by Courtois by gifting the Brazilian his second of the night.
Eder Militao’s header from Luka Modric’s free-kick gave Carlo Ancelotti’s side the lead early in the second half before Benzema’s shot deflected off Joe Gomez and beyond Alisson to silence Anfield. When Benzema later added a brilliant second, Liverpool were broken.
The result leaves Klopp and his players needing a miracle at the Bernabeu next month. The more immediate concern is that after a couple of confidence-boosting Premier League victories, the fragility that has marred Liverpool’s season has been exposed once more.
- Jurgen Klopp made the decision to name an unchanged side following Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win at Newcastle. Darwin Nunez was fit enough to start despite suffering a knock to his shoulder at St James’ Park, while Stefan Bajcetic retained his place in midfield for his first Champions League start.
- Real Madrid made two changes to the side that beat Osasuna at the weekend with Dani Carvajal and Karim Benzema coming in for Nacho and Dani Ceballos. Benzema had started just two of Madrid’s last five matches but had scored three goals in that time.
Carragher: ‘Shambolic’ and a ‘disgrace’
Speaking to CBS, Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher was scathing about Liverpool’s second-half capitulation. “That was shambolic from Liverpool,” he said.
“Embarrassing. We have made excuses for them all season, but that was a disgrace in that second half. To lose that half 3-0 when you’re attacking the Kop at 2-2 and in a knockout game. Shambolic.”
Liverpool’s miserable defeat in stats
- Liverpool conceded five goals in a European game at Anfield for the first time ever while it was just third time this century they shipped five or more goals in a home game in all competitions.
- Real Madrid are the first team in Champions League history to come from two goals down and win by a three-goal margin.
- This was only the fourth time a Jurgen Klopp side shipped five or more goals in a home game in all competitions, after Mainz in 2006 (1-6 v Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga), Borussia Dortmund in 2009 (1-5 v Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga) and Liverpool in 2019 (5-5 v Arsenal).
- At 22 years and 224 days old, Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior is the youngest visiting player to score twice against Liverpool at Anfield in major European competition since Johan Cruyff in December 1966 for Ajax in the European Cup (19y 233d).
- Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has scored six goals against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League, more than any other player.
Liverpool return to Premier League action on Saturday with a trip to Crystal Palace, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 7.45pm. Jurgen Klopp’s side then host Wolves on Wednesday, March 1; kick-off 8pm.
Real Madrid’s run of crucial fixtures continues on Saturday, with a LaLiga game at home to neighbours Atletico Madrid; kick-off 5.30pm. The European champions then host bitter rivals Barcelona on Thursday, March 2 in the Copa del Rey semi-finals; kick-off 8pm.