Liverpool in shambles as Real Madrid run riot at Anfield in stunning 67 minutes demolition
Liverpool suffer biggest defeat at home as Real Madrid run riot
Despite taking a two-goal lead against Real Madrid, Liverpool suffered their heaviest home defeat in European history on Tuesday night, with the Champions League holders coming from behind to win 5-2 at Anfield.
No away team had ever scored more than three goals in a European game at the famous stadium, with Real winning 3-0 in October 2014, but they were put to the sword by the Spanish giants in a ruthless second-half display.
Real appeared overawed and panicked in the opening exchanges of the last-16, first-leg clash, conceding two early goals, but regained their composure to net five unanswered goals on a disastrous night for Liverpool and their Champions League hopes.
On a typically charged European night under the lights at Anfield, the Reds made an electric start to the match, putting Real under pressure with ferocious pressing and lightning-fast attacks.
Their efforts were rewarded within the first four minutes with a fantastic goal; Mohamed Salah slipped in Darwin Nunez, and the Uruguayan produced an audacious flick that fooled Thibaut Courtois and enthralled the home crowd.
Vinicius Junior showed flashes of intent down the left wing, but Real’s superstars appeared slightly rattled by their opponents’ energy and verve, with a slaloming run from Cody Gakpo setting up Salah, who shanked his effort wide of the near post.
He made no mistake a few moments later, when Courtois spectacularly failed to control a back-pass and the ball bobbled off his knee and into the path of Salah, who had the simplest of tasks: tap into an unmanned net.
Liverpool were looking slick and dangerous on the counter, but Real’s run to the final last season was defined by their never-say-die attitude, and that tenacity was on display again in the 21st minute when danger man Vinicius darted infield and fired a powerful effort into the far corner.
The Merseysiders came close to restoring their two-goal lead after a goal-line scramble, but Real were starting to purr at the other end; Alisson made a great save to deny Vinicius a repeat of his earlier goal, before Federico Valverde blazed over after a sharp move.
In a frantic, engrossing match that alternated between the sublime and the ridiculous, it seemed fitting that Real should tie things up with another blunder as Alisson booted a clearance straight into Vinicius and then watched in disbelief as the ball looped up and over him into an empty net.
Real looked almost certain to take the lead on the stroke of halftime when Valverde released Vinicius, who played a great cross towards the far post for Rodrygo, but Andy Robertson produced a stunning last-ditch tackle to prevent the goal just as the Brazilian was about to tap the ball in.
But Real Madrid only had to wait a few minutes after the restart to take the lead for the first time; Vinicius was bundled over on the edge of the box by Joe Gomez, and Luka Modric’s free-kick was powerfully headed into the net from close range by an unmarked Eder Militao.
Liverpool had lost much of their early swagger and intensity by this point, falling two goals behind in the 55th minute. On the edge of the box, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo exchanged passes before the Frenchman’s rather tame shot took an unfortunate deflection off Gomez and bobbled down the middle of the goal, with Alisson already committed to his dive.
Jurgen Klopp appeared stunned in the dugout, and his team’s implosion was exacerbated 12 minutes later by a magnificent goal from the visitors.
Real had a three-versus-two situation when Modric stormed through the middle of the pitch, leaving Liverpool’s midfielders in his wake; the Croatian fed Vinicius, who squared for Benzema, and the Frenchman sat Alisson down before calmly guiding the ball into the top corner despite a wall of retreating Liverpool defenders on the line.
In reality, Liverpool did little to try to reduce the deficit after that and struggled to click, with the energy sucked out of Anfield, while Real appeared content to sit on their comfortable lead.
The result is only the third time in this century that Liverpool has conceded five goals at home, and it leaves the Merseysiders needing another Champions League miracle – this time at the Bernabeu in three weeks – to advance to the competition’s quarter-finals.