KLOPP’S LAST GAME SOUVENIR

Spanish media label Liverpool “impotent” as Real Madrid cruise “exhibition”

It was a “recital of impotence” from Liverpool at Anfield as they allowed Real Madrid to recover for a 5-2 win, with Anfield falling “under the white spell.”

In a relentless opening salvo, goals from Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah looked to set the Reds on their way to a strong first-leg lead.

Then it all came undone, with Vinicius Jr. scoring twice in the first half before a series of sloppy errors allowed Eder Militao and Karim Benzema (twice) to turn the game on its head.

Real are now overwhelming favourites to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, with the Spanish press glittering in their praise.

MARCA lauded the atmosphere at Anfield on a night they saw as “special from the start,” though explaining how the stadium “fell under the white spell.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 21, 2023: Real Madrid's Éder Militão scores the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It was an exhibition. Incontestable,” Jose Maria Rodriguez wrote.

“The thunderous ovation from Anfield at the end of the game was the emotional recognition of the red fans for the European champion.”

Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo‘s Pepe Gil Vernet focused on the performance of Vinicius Jr., who he hailed as “the sorcerer.”

“Nothing experienced by Ancelotti’s team, one step away from the quarter-finals, would have been possible without Vinicius Junior, who showed the world that there are now no two more decisive footballers than him,” he wrote.

“In the day of [late Real winger] Amancio, Vinicius was the sorcerer.”

Elsewhere in Mundo Deportivo, Real were rightly deemed to have “a foot and a half in the quarter-finals.”

Fabinho, Stefan Bajcetic, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, Andy Robertson Liverpool Real Madrid Anfield (Peter Byrne/PA)

Writing for AS, Luis Nieto pointed to Real’s power in the Champions League, which he believes “makes everything possible”:

“It was Madrid’s night, wrapped in that magical cloak of the Champions League that makes everything possible, including the fact that a tin shot from Benzema ends up being gold after hitting Joe Gomez‘s suicidal foot.

“Madrid, with that fourth goal, became the worst nightmare in the history of Anfield.

[…]

“As Anfield does not admit surrenders, Liverpool kept up their dignified attack until the end, but the hole in their history was already open by the best ever.”

Nieto did, at least, admit that the push from Dani Carvajal on Darwin Nunez in the second half should have “forced a penalty,” with a relief that “Kovacs did not whistle.”

Sport‘s headline also focused on the role of Vinicius Jr., who was able to “end the initial suffocation” imposed by Liverpool’s bright start.

Francesc J. Gimeno concluded:

“The Whites were already rowing with the wind in their favour and did not waste the first chance they had to practically seal the tie with the final 5-2 score from Benzema after a quick counter-attack.

“From there to the end it was a recital of impotence from the Klopp team.”

Journalists from AS and MARCA were scathing of Liverpool’s performance as they produced their player ratings – as was French publication L’Equipe.

Only Salah and Stefan Bajcetic were awarded two out of three stars by MARCA, with the rest receiving one apart from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson and Cody Gakpo, who were rated as zero.

AS also rated Salah with a two out of three, but Bajcetic was given a one along with Robertson, Gakpo, Nunez, Bajcetic, Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk.

The Egyptian was also the highest-rated player by L’Equipe, with a six out of 10, while Gomez was rated as a two and Alisson only marginally better with three.