Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: Vinicius Junior’s double inspires Zinedine Zidane’s side to first-leg win
Match report as Real Madrid secured a 3-1 win over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final; goals from Vinicius Jr and Marcos Asensio gave hosts lead; Mohamed Salah scored a precious away goal; but Vinicius’ second gave Real big advantage ahead of second leg.
Real Madrid left Liverpool needing another special European night at Anfield after Vinicius Junior’s double helped them beat the Premier League champions 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
After a sluggish start from Jurgen Klopp’s team, Vinicius Junior capitalised to convert Toni Kroos’ exquisite long pass to give Real Madrid a deserved 27th-minute lead.
Liverpool’s night got even worse when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s poor header gifted Real Madrid a second, Marco Asensio lifting the ball over Alisson Becker and into the back of the net 11 minutes before the interval.
Klopp reacted just before half-time, hauling off Naby Keita and bringing on Thiago Alcantara, and they started the second half in much better fashion.
They were rewarded with a precious away goal though Mohamed Salah in the 51st minute, but Real had a response of their own as Vinicius (65) struck his second of the night to restore Real’s two-goal advantage and leave Liverpool with plenty of work to do ahead of next week’s second leg.
How Real brushed aside Liverpool…
Real Madrid came out of the blocks quickly and they dominated the early stages as the visitors struggled to find the rhythm that secured them a 3-0 victory at Arsenal at the weekend.
They were caught napping at the back in the 27th minute as Zidane’s team took a deserved lead.
- Real’s problems in defence, something Liverpool are more than familiar with, meant Eder Militao and Nacho were partnered together in the centre of the back four.
- Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita made only his second Champions League start of the season as one of three changes for the quarter-final first leg away to Real Madrid. Manager Jurgen Klopp opted for more legs in midfield, with Keita replacing Thiago Alcantara and Georginio Wijnaldum coming in for James Milner, and extra pace up front as the in-form Diogo Jota came in for the goal-shy Roberto Firmino.
Kroos, with no pressure on the ball, lofted an inch-perfect 50-yard pass forward which Vinicius Junior controlled on his chest before calmly beating Alisson with his second.
Real strengthened their dominance nine minutes later when a mistake from Alexander-Arnold gifted them a second.
The right-back headed another long pass from Kroos straight into the path of Asensio, who lobbed the ball over Alisson before tapping into an empty net.
Real Madrid: Courtois (7), Vazquez (6), Eder Militao (7), Nacho (7), Mendy (8), Kroos (8), Casemiro (7), Modric (8), Asensio (8), Benzema (7), Vinicius Junior (8).
Subs: Valverde (6), Rodrygo (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (5), Alexander-Arnold (5), Kabak (5), Phillips (6), Robertson (6), Keita (4), Fabinho (6), Wijnaldum (6), Salah (6), Jota (7), Mane (5).
Subs: Thiago (6), Firmino (n/a), Shaqiri (n/a).
Man of the match: Vinicius Junior.
Liverpool were stunned and Klopp reacted just before the break bringing on Thiago in place of Keita, but more work was needed from the German at half-time to get his side back into this contest.
But they got the start – and the away goal – they needed early in the second half with Salah blasting the ball home via the arm of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and the underside of the crossbar after Diogo Jota had driven into the penalty area.
Liverpool upped the tempo and looked most likely to score next, and but for a goal-saving challenge from Ferland Mendy with Sadio Mane ready to pounce, they would have had their second goal.
However, it was Vinicius who swung the tie back in Real’s favour with a sucker punch in the 65th minute.
Luka Modric played the ball into the path of the Brazilian, who squeezed a shot through the legs of Nat Phillips, with Alisson only able to help the ball into the corner of the net, leaving Liverpool with plenty to do if they are to reach the semi-finals.