When Real Madrid drew Liverpool for the Champions League quarter finals, it was billed as a revenge party for the Reds. And when news broke that Liverpool’s villain Sergio Ramos would not be available for the clash, it only seemed something but a giveaway for Liverpool.
However, the Reds came short at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano and would now have a mountain to climb when they face the competition record winners at Anfield.
The destruction this time was not by a club legend who is both loved and hated depending on which side you view him. It was mastered by two youngsters who are on a path to writing their own story in Real Madrid’s history.
Fortunately for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, they did not have to lose talisman Mohammed Salah in the course of the match through injury. They were just outplayed and outscored by their Spanish counterparts.
Madrid started on a brighter note with Benzema flashing shot at goal which Alison comfortably saved. It was not Loris Karius and it was neither Gareth Bale nor Christiano Ronaldo. Vinicius shot Los Blancos into the lead after 27 minutes of play. The Brazilian winger connected received a Toni Kroos perfect pass with his chest and sent it past Alison with a half-volley.
In less that 10 minutes after Vinicius’ opener, Marco Asension added to Madrid’s lead after Trent Alexander-Arnold gifted the attacker the ball when he directed a bad header towards Alison.
Jurgen Klopp shell shocked side was well out of pace heading into the break. And in a bid to further slipping into the abyss of defeat, the German hauled off Naby Keita who was lost in the Madrid adopted home ground.
Thiago replaced Naby but that did not stop the dethroned English champions from making unwanted records at the break. They conceded two or more goals in the first half of a Champions League match for the first time since going down 3 – 0 againts Milan in the 2005 final. They also failed to register a single shot on target for the first time in seven years, tracing back to 2014 also against the same opponent.
Mohammed Salah halved the deficit and gave Liverpool a fighting chance six minutes into the second half. However, that only lasted as long as it could before Vinicius came haunting them down again to score his second and Madrid’s third.
The victory gave Zinedine Zidane’s men the upper hand heading into the second leg. But who will write of the ‘Comeback Kings’ of Europe? Madrid may do so at their own peril having witnessed Liverpool urge out some of the famous comebacks in the competition history.
If Madrid doubt Klopp’s men or Anfield, they better ask Paolo Maldini and Hernan Crespo what transpired in Istanbul in 2005. They could even get better ideas of the Anfield ghost by asking Lionel Messi and his Barcelona.
Liverpool may have lost their English title and faltering in the league but they are no walkover in this competition. But if Liverpool thought Ramos was their problem, then Vinicius says “Hello”.