Benzema leads Real Madrid past Liverpool to reach Champions League quarter-finals
Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid to take a 1-0 win over Liverpool to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, 6-2 on aggregate.
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After a wild clash of the first 16 matches at Anfield in February, Real Madrid went on to win by three goals, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said his team only has a one per cent chance of turning the tide.
They stopped the bloodshed at the Santiago Bernabéu but never looked as if they had staged a breakout comeback like what they managed to do against Barcelona in 2019 or Milan in the 2005 final.
Madrid knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League for three seasons in a row, including beating them in last year’s final.
“It was a difficult game, but from the very beginning we showed that we want to go further and we are in the quarter-finals,” Benzema told Movistar.
“Suffering is part of modern football. Everyone wants more, but sometimes in the game you have to suffer – the main thing is to win and pass.
The 14-time record holders have shown the ability to keep Liverpool at arm’s length, with defenders Eder Militao and Antonio Rüdiger determined to keep visitors out, along with goalkeeper Thibault Courtois.
Defending champions Madrid could have increased their lead significantly if not for a string of superb stops by Liverpool stopper Alisson Becker and some extraordinarily wasteful finishing blows.
Madrid’s first leg was deadly, with Vinicius Junior and Benzema scoring two goals each – neither was as decisive.
However, they eventually came together in the 78th minute for a Madrid win when Vinicius slipped while trying to shoot but diverted the ball into Benzema’s trajectory for a simple touch.
Madrid’s only concern was that their captain was limping after his goal in an injured season – Benzema said it was just a shin kick and Carlo Ancelotti confirmed he would be fit to face Barcelona in the Clasico ” on Sunday.
Madrid controlled the whole game, Ali had to make two sensational saves to keep us in the game,” Klopp told reporters.
Madrid were great, so the best team went through to the next round.”
– Without magic –
Liverpool, wildly inconsistent in this campaign, perked up after a 7-0 Premier League thrashing of Manchester United but failed to produce the same magic under the Bernabeu fire.
Klopp started with Diogo Jota alongside his usual attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, using all the firepower he could to try and come back.
The first chance of the game fell to Nunez, but Courtois prevented the Uruguayan, who was filed by Salah.
On the other hand, Madrid slashed Liverpool several times and Alisson made a stunning save to deprive Vinicius of a point-blank shot.
Eduardo Camavinga hit the bar from long range and Alisson touched it with his fingertips.
The Brazilian goalkeeper made several more saves from Vinicius, Fede Valverde and Benzema with Madrid in control.
Camavinga made an impression in midfield and ultimately helped Benzema score with a powerful forward pass in the build-up.
“I told him a few small details, like how I know that the two central defenders of Liverpool play openly, there is space in the center, and that is how we scored a goal,” added Benzema.
The striker has already scored seven times in the Champions League against Liverpool – more than any other player.
Benzema plays a key role in Madrid’s drive to lift the trophy for the sixth time in 10 seasons if he can stay in shape.
Madrid played the classic Liverpool anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the end of the game, both a stylish touch but also showing that Liverpool have never truly made them uncomfortable.
Ancelotti said Madrid were full of confidence after their remarkable run to the final last season.
“We have a lot more confidence, because of what happened last year, it gave us more confidence,” said the Italian.
“We saw that in this match against a strong team we did well in two games.
“But later, on confidence alone, we did not reach the semi-finals. We have to show amazing football… as always, the Champions League is very difficult and we have to fight to the end.”