Real Madrid stun Liverpool, secure Champions League quarter-final spot
Madrid: Karim Benzema Real Madrid secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 1–0 victory over Liverpool, resulting in a 6–2 aggregate win.
After the previous heated match at Anfield in February, where Madrid With a three-goal lead, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp admitted his side had only a one per cent chance of turning things around.
They stopped the bleeding at the Santiago Bernabeu but never looked like the kind of stirring comeback they managed against Barcelona in 2019 or AC Milan in the 2005 final.
Madrid has now knocked. Liverpool Three consecutive seasons out of the Champions League, including beating them in last year’s final.
“It was a complicated game but from the start we showed we wanted to get through it, and we’re in the quarter-finals,” Benzema told Movistar.
“Suffering is part of today’s football. Everyone wants more, but sometimes you have to suffer in a game — the most important thing is to win and go through.”
The record 14-time winners looked defiant to keep Liverpool at arm’s length, with defenders Eder Militau and Antonio Rudiger determined to stop the visitors, along with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Reigning champions Madrid could have extended their lead significantly, barring some brilliant stops from Liverpool stopper Alisson Becker and some uncharacteristically poor finishing.
In the first leg, Madrid were lethal, with Vinicius Junior and Benzema netting twice — neither decisive.
Yet they finally combined for Madrid’s winner after 78 minutes, when Vinicius slipped as he tried to shoot, but a simple tap put the ball into the path of Benzema for them.
Madrid’s only concern during an injury-plagued season was seeing their captain limp after his goal — Benzema said it was just a knock on the shin — and Carlo Ancelotti confirmed he will be fit to face Barcelona in Sunday’s Clasico. Will fit.
“Madrid controlled the whole game, Ali had to make two sensational saves to keep us in the game,” Klopp told reporters.
“Madrid were fantastic and that’s why the better team went through to the next round.”
– no magic –
Liverpool, deeply inconsistent this campaign, were heartened by a 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United in the Premier League, but could not produce the same magic under the Bernabeu lights.
Klopp started alongside Diego Jota with his usual attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, deploying as much firepower as possible to attempt a comeback.
The first chance of the game went to Nunes but Courtois thwarted the Uruguayan, who was fed by Salah.
At the other end, Madrid cut Liverpool open on various occasions, and Alisson made a superb save to deny Vinicius from point-blank range.
Eduardo Camavonga smashed a long-range effort against the crossbar, which Alisson got his finger on.
The Brazilian goalkeeper made further saves from Vinicius, Fede Valverde and Benzema as Madrid controlled the game.
Kamavanga impressed in midfield and eventually helped set up Benzema’s goal, with a forward pass to break through.
“I told him some small details, like how I knew Liverpool’s two centre-backs were open, there was space in the middle, and that’s how we scored,” Benzema added.
The striker has now scored seven times against Liverpool in the Champions League, more than any other player.
Benzema is key to Madrid’s bid to lift the trophy for a sixth time in 10 seasons, if he can stay fit.
Madrid played the classic Liverpool anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the end of the game, a nice touch at once but also because Liverpool never really let them down.
Ancelotti said Madrid were full of belief after their impressive run to last season’s final.
“We have a lot of confidence, because what happened last year gave us a lot of confidence,” the Italian said.
“We saw that in this tie, against a strong team, we did well in two games.
“But later, with confidence alone, we cannot reach the semi-finals. We have to play amazing football… As always, the Champions League is very complicated and we have to compete until the end.”