The Champions League produced a real rollercoaster ride experience for Real Madrid fans as they beat Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Initially, some slack defending and a Thibaut Courtois error gave Liverpool a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes, but Real Madrid fought back with magnificent style to win 5-2. Vinícius levelled the scoreline with a brace before the halfway point, with Éder Militão giving the away team the lead which Karim Benzema went on to extend with two more goals.
Here are three stats that help us to understand what the chaos of what happened on Merseyside.
1966: The last time any team scored five against Liverpool in Europe
The last time any side did so was Ajax in December 1966 with a 5-1 win, but even that victory was in Amsterdam. No side had even scored four at Anfield in Europe before Los Blancos rocked up on Tuesday night.
Following up on the win over Celtic at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, this was also only the second time ever that Real Madrid have scored five in consecutive Champions League matches, a feat not achieved since November 1998 with 6-1 and 5-1 wins over Sturm Graz.
It was also a remarkable achievement for Karim Benzema as the French forward scored a brace to take his overall return against the Reds to six in the competition, more than the club have conceded against any single player. Even more impressively, these goals were his third and fourth at Anfield.
This was a historic performance from Real Madrid, who came back from behind against English opposition for the third time in the last 12 months, to produce a rout the likes of which have rarely been seen before.
2.01-1.66: Expected goals suggest Liverpool should have won
To fully understand this tie, it’s important to go beyond the simple scoreline but also into the depths of how it came about. Ruthless finishing is one of the most important factors.
An xG overperformance of 3.34 is the second highest ever recorded in the Champions League by Real Madrid since records began in 2013, with only a difference of 3.38 against Viktoria Plzen in November 2018 surpassing it.
In particular, Karim Benzema exceeded xG by 1.29, while Vinícius Júnior surpassed his xG by 1.6. To have two world-class forwards producing clinical finishes was what proved to be the difference.
Vini’s first goal with a rocket of a shot into the bottom corner registered just 0.03 xG given the angle of the attempt on goal, while Karim Benzema’s goal for Real Madrid’s fourth from the edge of the box was only slightly higher at 0.1 xG.
Liverpool will be feeling hard done by not to have come away from this game with a closer balance on the scoresheet, particularly given that Darwin Núñez alone had 1.21 xG, which is 0.5 more than any single Real Madrid player, but they lacked that cutting edge that would be enough to see Real Madrid out of sight.
18: Duels involving Vinícius, five more than anyone else
It would be easy to get caught up in the furore of the goals and their significance in this tie, but Vinícius Júnior offered so much more than simply getting on the scoresheet. With 18 duels, he registered five more than any other player on the field.
That meant that, remarkably, Vinícius both won and lost more duels than any other player on the field. He won seven of his 18 duels, losing the other 11, while no other player won more than six (tied between four), and Mohamed Salah and Eduardo Camavinga both lost seven duels.
Of those duels, four were dribbles and take-ons which he completed. His pace and strength down Real Madrid’s left flank was something that Liverpool significantly struggled to cope with. Jordan Henderson in particular, on the right of the Liverpool midfield, couldn’t keep up with Vini’s bursting runs. That left Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez exposed.
While each of the Real Madrid players in the attacking line produced strong displays, Vini’s was one worthy of the occasion. For time, Madridistas have been crying for him to step up in a big game like this one and take it by the scruff of the neck single-handedly. He did just that against Liverpool.