Liverpool needed a miracle like we’d never seen before, but it never seemed likely before or during the second leg as Real Madrid again ended the Reds’ Champions League season.
Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
Real Madrid win 6-2 on aggregate
Champions League last-16, second leg; Bernabeu
March 15, 2023
In every season under Klopp, Liverpool’s Champions League journey has ended either in Madrid or against a team from Madrid, this being the fourth time in six seasons that Real Madrid have beaten Liverpool.
No team in Champions League history had come back from three goals down after a home leg and it didn’t change at the Bernabeu.
Jurgen Klopp was somewhat forced into going for an attacking lineup due to midfield injuries, meaning all of Salah, Gakpo, Nunez and Jota started. James Milner made a rare start alongside Fabinho in a two-man midfield.
An open start to the game saw two outstanding saves from Alisson in the opening 20 minutes; first at point-blank range, Dudek-like, then to tip Camavinga’s shot onto the bar.
Luca Modric also flashed a powerful shot over the bar, while Liverpool had a decent chance for Jota but he couldn’t take it.
Nunez was Liverpool’s biggest threat and he cut inside just after the half-hour but Thibaut Courtois kept out his curling effort. Then Cody Gakpo forced the ‘keeper into a good save.
Half time: Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Klopp had said that perhaps his side only had a one percent chance pre-match, they knew they needed to score the opening goal, but also not concede it either.
Another good save from Alisson early in the second half denied Karim Benzema, then Liverpool broke two-vs-one but Salah completely ruinez the pass to Nunez.
Liverpool certainly had chances, but the execution in the final third was consistently poor and delivery from corners and set pieces was even worse.
Roberto Firmino replaced the disappointing Jota on the hour, while Harvey Elliott came on for Nunez in a more surprising change.
As Nunez departed, so did Liverpool’s attacking threat.
The Reds had more of the ball in the second half but consistently failed to play simple passes when the game was opening up.
Real got a fortuitous goal to open the scoring in the 78th minute when Vinicius fell over and the ball fell for Benzema to tap into an open net.
Ultimately, Liverpool were made to pay for their naive approach when 2-0 up in the home tie, creating their own issues just as they have all season.
Defeat means the Reds, who came within two victories of a quadruple last May, are out of all cup competitions and will play 11 games fewer than last season.
Liverpool now have 17 days until their next fixture, away to Man City in a week that also sees them face Chelsea and Arsenal.
TIA Man of the Match: Alisson
Referee: Felix Zwayer (GER)
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson (Tsimikas 90+1); Fabinho, Milner (Oxlade-Chamberlain 73′); Salah, Gakpo (Carvalho 90+1), Nunez (Elliott 57′); Jota (Firmino 57′)
Subs not used: Kelleher, Adrian, Matip, Gomez, Williams, Keita, Jones
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, E. Militao, Rudiger, Nacho, Kroos, Modric, Camavinga, Valverde, Vinicius, Benzema.
Subs: Lunin, Vallejo, Hazard, Asensio, Lucas V., Odriozola, Tchouameni, F. Mendy, Mariano, Alvaro, D. Ceballos, Rodrygo
Next Match: Man City (away, Saturday 1 April)