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Champions League: Liverpool implode at Anfield as Real Madrid run riot | Football

Vinicius Junior put Liverpool’s defence to the sword on a chastening night (Picture: Getty)

Liverpool suffered their heaviest home defeat in European history on Tuesday night despite taking a two-goal lead against Real Madrid, with the Champions League holders coming from behind to win 5-2 at Anfield in scarcely believable fashion.

No away team had ever scored more than three goals at the famous ground in a European game – with Real winning 3-0 in October 2014 – but they were put to the sword in a ruthless second-half display from the Spanish giants.

Real had looked overawed and panicked at times in the opening exchanges of the last-16, first-leg clash, conceding two early goals, but regained their composure to net five unanswered goals on a catastrophic night for Liverpool and their hopes of progressing in the Champions League.

On a typically charged European night under the lights at Anfield, the home side made an electric start to the match and immediately put Real under pressure with their ferocious pressing and lightning-quick attacks.

Their endeavour paid off inside the first four minutes with a wonderful goal; Mohamed Salah slipped in Darwin Nunez and the Uruguayan produced an audacious flick that deceived Thibaut Courtois and sent the home crowd wild.

Vinicius Junior showed flashes of intent down the left wing but Real’s collection of superstars looked ever-so-slightly rattled by the energy and verve coming from their opponents, with a slaloming run from Cody Gakpo setting up Salah, though he shanked his effort wide of the near post.

He made no mistake just a few moments later, though, when Courtois spectacularly failed to control a back-pass and the ball bobbled off his knee and into the path of Salah, who had the easiest of tasks to tap into an unmanned net.

Darwin Nunez got Liverpool off to the perfect start (Picture: Getty)
Salah pounced on Courtois’ error to double Liverpool’s lead (Picture: Getty)

Liverpool were looking slick and dangerous on the counter, but Real’s run to the final last season was characterised by their never-say-die attitude and that mettle was evident again as they got back into the match in the 21st minute thanks to a superb goal from danger man Vinicius, who darted infield and fired a powerful effort into the far corner.

The Merseysiders went close to restoring their two-goal lead after a scramble on the goal-line but Real were starting to purr at the other end; Alisson produced a great stop to deny Vinicius a carbon-copy of his earlier goal before Federico Valverde blazed over after a sharp move.

In a frantic, absorbing contest that seesawed between the sublime and the ridiculous, it felt fitting that Real should tie things up from another error as Alisson booted a clearance straight into Vinicius and then watched in disbelief as the ball looped up and over him into an empty net.

Vinicius’s electric display dragged Real back into the match (Picture: Getty)

On the stroke of half-time, Real looked almost certain to take the lead when Valverde released Vinicius, who played a great cross towards the far post for Rodrygo, but Andy Robertson produced a stunning last-ditch tackle to prevent the goal just as the Brazilian was poised to tap the ball in.

But Real only had to wait a couple of minutes after the restart to get their noses in front for the first time; Vinicius was bundled over by Joe Gomez on the edge of the box and Luka Modric’s free-kick was powerfully headed into the net from close range by an unmarked Eder Militao.

By this point, Liverpool had lost much of their early swagger and intensity and fell two goals behind in the 55th minute. Karim Benzema and Rodrygo exchanged passes on the edge of the box and a rather tame shot from the Frenchman took an unfortunate deflection off Gomez and bobbled down the middle of the goal with Alisson having already committed to his dive.

Eder Militao gave Real Madrid the lead just after half-time (Picture: Getty)
Liverpool crumbled as Benzema bagged a brace (Picture: Getty)

Jurgen Klopp looked shell-shocked in the dugout and his team’s implosion was compounded just 12 minutes later after a magnificent goal from the visitors.

The evergreen Modric stormed through the middle of the pitch, leaving Liverpool’s midfielders in his wake, and Real suddenly had a three-versus-two situation; the Croatian fed Vinicius, who squared for Benzema, and the Frenchman sat Alisson down before calming guiding the ball into the top corner despite a wall of retreating Liverpool defenders on the line.

In truth, Liverpool did little to reduce the deficit after that and struggled to click, with the energy having been sucked out of Anfield, while Real looked quite content to sit on their handsome lead.

The result marks just the third time this century that Liverpool have conceded five goals at home and leaves the Merseysiders in need of another Champions League miracle – this time at the Bernabeu in three weeks’ time – to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.

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