MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, April 6, 2021: Real Madrid's Vini?cius Ju?nior scores the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg game between Real Madird CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. (Pic by Propaganda)

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: Reds clinging to away goal on deflating night

Liverpool were roundly outplayed by Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, but can cling onto a vital away goal from their 3-1 defeat.

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool

Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg, Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano
April 6, 2021


Vinicius Jr 27′
Asensio 36′
Salah 51′ (assist – Jota)
Vinicius Jr 65′

In the biggest game of the season so far, the Reds began on the back foot as Real looked to control proceedings, with Karim Benzema – the main threat to Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak – testing Alisson early on.

Liverpool grew into the game as Trent Alexander-Arnold, occupying an interesting role between right-back and midfield, took over, with the No. 66 producing the best moment of the opening quarter-hour as his cross teased a Diogo Jota header.

A dismal start was punished, though, in the 27th minute, as a stunning pass from Toni Kroos saw Vinicius Jr run through Phillips and Alexander-Arnold, chest it down and finish for 1-0.

It went from bad to worse soon after, as another Kroos pass over the top was headed into the path of Marco Asensio by a sprawling Alexander-Arnold, with the Spaniard through for a one-on-one with Alisson and comfortable in beating him.

Jurgen Klopp‘s decision to start Naby Keita over Thiago backfired massively, with the Guinean so far off the pace and, incredibly, hooked for the player he replaced three minutes before half-time.

HT: Real Madrid 2-0 Liverpool

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, April 6, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg game between Real Madird CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. (Pic by Propaganda)

A half-time bollocking and a reminder of the importance of away goals later, and Liverpool came out of the blocks much more aggressive after the break, and were back in the tie within six minutes.

The deficit-reducer came as Jota cut onto his right and fired a shot on target, and though it was blocked it fell into the path of Mohamed Salah, who was able to collect and divert home via the glove of Thibaut Courtois.

It wasn’t long before the bubble burst, though, as Real capitalised on more miserable defending as Benzema and Luka Modric combined to feed Vinicius Jr to make it 3-1.

Klopp made a desperate roll of the dice as Kabak and Jota were replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri and Roberto Firmino, with the intention clearly to grab another away goal if possible.

Unfortunately, Real sat back and defended their lead, and Liverpool are now required to score at least two at Anfield to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

TIA Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

Real Madrid: Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Nacho, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Asensio (Valverde 70′), Vinicius Jr (Rodrygo 85′), Benzema

Subs not used: Lunin, Altube, Odriozola, Marcelo, Chust, Arribas, Mariano, Isco

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak (Shaqiri 81′), Robertson; Fabinho, Keita (Thiago 42′), Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Jota (Firmino 81′)

Subs not used: Adrian, H.Davies, R.Williams, B.Davies, Tsimikas, Milner, Cain, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Next match: Aston Villa (H) – Premier League – Saturday, April 10, 3pm (BST)