Real through in CL after entertaining but never really exciting duel against Liverpool
Real Madrid has qualified, as expected, for the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Liverpool. After the Madrilenians’ 5-2 win in the outward match, Liverpool needed a miracle, but it did not come: Real won 1-0 at home through a goal by Karim Benzema.
Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp said on Tuesday that if there was only a 1 percent chance, he would still go for it. “It is not likely, but possible,” the German said.
Perhaps something would have been possible even if the first big chance at the Bernabéu had been a hit. After Real’s sloppy ball loss, Mohamed Salah served Darwin Núñez in the seventh minute, but goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved handsomely on the Uruguayan’s shot.
Plenty of chances
Liverpool’s much desired quick opening goal failed to materialize and an attractive open first half unfolded with no less than seventeen goal attempts, but no goals. By comparison, three weeks ago both clubs had a total of eighteen goal attempts, from which seven goals fell.
On behalf of Real, the biggest chances before halftime were for Eduardo Camavinga with a long-range shot on the crossbar and Luka Modric, who shot savagely just over the crossbar. For Liverpool, Núñez once again pounced on Courtois and the Belgian goalkeeper was also at his post when Cody Gakpo fired a shot from about 20 yards out.
Even after halftime it remained a fun match to watch, although there was no sign of any tension. Liverpool began to believe less and less in the scenario that it could score three more goals and Real took the reins more and more firmly.
The Spaniards also had the biggest chances: Federico Valverde should have scored when he headed alone at Alisson Becker, but the Brazilian goalkeeper parried his weak effort and also saved Karim Benzema’s subsequent better effort.
Benzema had more opportunities, scoring in the 78th minute. After a beautiful pass from Camavinga, the ball came back to the Frenchman via Benzema and Vinícius Júnior, who was able to simply slide in, shattering Liverpool’s last glimmer of hope.
Benzema did get injured at the goal, due to a collision with Virgil van Dijk, and was substituted immediately. For Real, that no longer mattered on this night.
And so Liverpool’s Champions League ended with a defeat against Real Madrid for the third year in a row, after the quarter-finals in 2021 and the final in 2022.