Two goals from Vinicius Junior and a third from Marco Asensio fired Real Madrid into the driving seat of this quarter-final tie. Despite a second-half goal from Mohammed Salah Liverpool looked lost. Madrid dominated the game and with that, left as deserved winners.
With four starters missing for Real Madrid, three of which were defenders, few could have expected the rock-solid defensive work Madrid would show. Real played with complete and utter control from the first whistle.
The final missing player was Eden Hazard, his replacement Vinicius Junior not only met the bar but, raised it.
Vinicius ran onto an exceptional Toni Kroos pass twenty-six minutes in and slotted home. It was a brilliant quick counter, and one that was deserved after the forward had narrowly headed wide just moments earlier.
Ten minutes later the lead was doubled. If the first goal came from a pass of the highest order, the second came from defending of the lowest. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold would make a serious error heading the ball straight to Asensio for the Spaniard to lift it over Alisson.
The control of Real Madrid was a stark contrast to the mediocrity of Liverpool. Arguably nothing shows this better than Liverpool failing to manage a single shot in the first-half. Real however, managed ten!
In the second-half Liverpool were somewhat better or, at least for around fifteen minutes. They started the second with intensity and pressed well. Their reward for this a goal from Mohammed Salah six minutes in, for a few brief moments a comeback looked possible.
Like a school game between two years though, the older boys showed Liverpool how it’s done. Fifteen minutes later Vinicius would get his second. An even better finish than his first it rounded off the scoring for the night.
It was a near perfect performance for Real Madrid, and the polar opposite for Liverpool.
What can we expect from the second leg?
Going into the second-leg next Wednesday Zidane’s side may well not enter with full momentum. The reason for this being, they have the daunting task of an El Clasico derby this Saturday before the second leg.
As far as positives to take from this performance Liverpool are limited. The Merseyside club were weak and toothless for much of the game. It’s tough to point to a single area that failed to meet expectations for Liverpool as, the whole side was below par. But, even at their very worst Liverpool managed an away goal.
Admittedly Liverpool have managed just one win in eight home games in 2021. However, as history will tell us when they have their backs to the wall, Liverpool often find a way to deliver.