Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool (Benzema). Into the next round. Here is my reaction to the victory. Coming up: Player ratings, post game quotes and a Champions League podcast.
After the bizarre 5-2 result in England in the first leg of this tie, Real Madrid had one foot in the next round of the Champions League already. However, if there is one thing this competition has shown time and time again - it is that nothing is really over until it is over. One Liverpool goal would change the trajectory completely, and give the reds some extra motivation. The Madrid starting line-up was strong, with Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernández starting as the full-backs. Eduardo Camavinga got the nod in midfield, with Fede Valverde being pushed out-wide because of this. The bench consisted solely of first team players for the first time in a while, as no Castilla or youth players were given the call-up. Karim Benzema captained the side.
✅ Our starting XI @LFC! #UCL pic.twitter.com/O5kJ5F7aKw— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) March 15, 2023
For a team that needed goals quickly, Liverpool looked slightly reserved - but they did have the first chance of the game when Darwin Núñez tested Thibaut Courtois with a snap-shot. Fede Valverde would then get his first chance of many, shooting low and wide past the post. Vinícius Júnior should have made it 1-0 from close range, but Alisson Becker did well to deny him with some quick reactions in the air. Eduardo Camavinga would then be denied by the Brazilian keeper. Luka Modrić fired another long-shot towards goal, with the ball flying just over the bar this time. Núñez would try to respond for the visitors with a curling effort, but Courtois would again come to clutch to tap the ball wide. Madrid would make it to half-time with the score at 0-0, and the tie all but sealed.
Real Madrid are the first team EVER to reach the milestone of 3️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ games played pic.twitter.com/TEMmCGJ2h4— 433 (@433) March 15, 2023
If you thought that Liverpool were passive in the first half, it would only get worse for them in the second. Madrid started to take control as Vinícius Júnior tried to thread Karim Benzema through - and almost got the ball back close to goal, but couldn't finish off the move. Valverde was then played clean through by Benzema but ran out of ideas, kicking the ball into the keeper. Benzema had another pop inside the box, but his effort went over the target. Time was ticking for Liverpool, and the margins were shrinking with three goals needed to have any chance at progression. It was still Madrid with a foothold on the game however, and the hosts took the lead with a scrappy goal as Vinícius tapped it to Benzema whilst on the floor for the Frenchman to score an open goal. The tie was now dead, and substitutes were brought on to see the result out. The final whistle blew to after a lengthy VAR check for no reason to cement Real Madrid’s place in the last eight of the competition. What did you think about the tie?