Though they saw their side lose 5-2 to effectively exit the Champions League, Liverpool fans were still full of respect for Real Madrid players at Anfield.
It was not a result deserving of the atmosphere inside Anfield on Tuesday night, as a frenetic start gave way to a dominant display from Real.
Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah put the Reds two goals up early on, only for Vinicius Jr. to strike twice and ensure parity at the break, with Eder Militao’s header and two from Karim Benzema sealing a heavy defeat.
Despite the gloom surrounding the result – which is Liverpool’s worst-ever at home in Europe – the supporters did not let that affect them.
Instead, as Luka Modric and Karim Benzema were brought off the pitch with three minutes left to play of normal time, the Real icons were applauded by the home fans.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 22, 2023
It resonated with Modric, who took to Twitter after the game to relish a “special atmosphere” at the home of Liverpool.
Thank you Anfield. Special atmosphere. ?? #Respect
— Luka Modri? (@lukamodric10) February 21, 2023
The importance of respect is often lost in modern football, particularly in such high-stakes ties as the Champions League last 16, so it was warming to see on Tuesday.
Liverpool fans were not the only ones to do so, either, with the away supporters – kept inside the stadium after full-time – chanting in support of their hosts.
Real Madrid fans chant ‘Liverpool, Liverpool’ as a show of respect after the home fans applauded Real off the pitch. pic.twitter.com/0rtlIJELWV
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) February 21, 2023
It is not rare to see visiting players left in awe after visiting Anfield, and Thibaut Courtois reflected this in a post-match interview.
“And the fact that there was applause from Liverpool supporters for Luka and Karim just proves that people here know how to appreciate guys who are great players.”