Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr bag a brace each as Real Madrid came from two goals down to demolish Liverpool 2-5 in Champions League round of 16 first leg tie at Anfield.
It was almost nine months since the two sides met at the final of the tournament with Real Madrid having a better of Liverpool against the run of play.
Real Madrid arrived at Anfield in top form ahead of the blockbuster clash. They top their Champions League group with four wins, a loss, and a draw, while Liverpool recovered from an opening 4-2 loss to Napoli in their group to bag five straight wins.
Liverpool XI: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Stefan Bajcetic; Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez.
Real Madrid XI: Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba; Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Luka Modric; Rodrygo, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior.
Real Madrid seemed to stay on top of proceedings as the match kicked-off but they were passing the ball in their own half.
Liverpool effectively muffled up the midfield spaces, leaving Madrid pressed up in their own half despite staying in possession of the ball.
Just four minutes into the game, it was Liverpool in the lead, and what a goal by Darwin Nunez.
David Alaba had backed off while Mo Salah charge forward before fizzing a cross into the middle. Darwin Nunez quickly picked his pace pass two Madrid defenders before daringly taking a backheel flick that flew pass Courtois into the net.
The goal seemed to have whittled down the frantic tempo of the game with Liverpool taking control and comfortably knocking the ball around in the middle while Real Madrid stayed deep.
Liverpool continued to dominate proceedings and were pushing for another goal.
In the 14th minute, a rare awkward moment and a mistake by Courtois saw Liverpool double the lead.
Carvajal cut off Gody Gakpo from the ball by sending a bouncing back pass to Courtois. The ball went straight to Courtois’ knee and bounced off, leaving him wrongfooted. Mo Salah was right on spot to slot it into the net.
After conceding two quick goals, Real Madrid fought back in style, with Vinicius Jr leading the comeback in the 21st minute.
The Brazilian picked his way pass Fabinho after a lovely footwork and then went for a quick one-two with Benzema before curling a left-footed strike into the bottom-right corner pass Alisson.
Five minutes later, Alaba was forced off the pitch following a hamstring with Ancelotti bringing on Nacho in his place.
While Madrid seemed to have lost control of the game despite putting one pass Liverpool, they were dangerous upfront when recovering from Liverpool’s blistering pace.
In the 38th minute, Alisson came up with a big blunder that brought the game level at 2-2.
Gomez had intercepted Real Madrid’s counter and cut off Vinicius Jr by passing the ball to Alisson. The Reds’ goalkeeper wanted to clear the ball but ended up hitting the Brazilian and having the ball loop back into the net.
The first half ended 2-2 with the two goalkeepers registering costly errors that led to goals for both sides.
Just two minutes into the second half, Real Madrid made it 2-3 after Luka Modric’s freekick. The Croatian had whipped in the free-kick into the box. Militao broke loose of his marker to deliver a header that sent the visitors into the lead.
Real Madrid seemed to settle into the game after the lead, comfortably knocking the ball around, but they had the pace of the Reds to be afraid of.
Liverpool held a more dangerous attacking momentum than their visitors but were confined to their early two-goal lead in the first half.
In the 55th minute, Benzema’s deflection off Gomez’s thigh wrongfooted Alisson and doubled the lead for Los Blancos
Jurgen Klopp then subbed off Gakpo for Firminho, and Nunez for Jota, but that had little or no change in the game.
Jurgen Klopp made further substitutions taking off Gomez for Matip and Henderson for Milner.
Carlo Ancelotti, having taken perfect control of the game, took off Rodrygo for Ceballos late in the game.
In the 67th minute, Real Madrid broke on a quick counter. Modric picked on Vinicius Jr, who then sent a pass to Benzema. Benzema beat Allison, who had come out and then fire the ball into the net to make it 2-5 for Los Blancos.
Despite late pressure by the Reds, Real Madrid held on to grab a huge win and will be going into the second leg tie in March with a huge advantage.