The 13 times European Champions Real Madrid registered a comprehensive 3-1 win against Liverpool in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.
The 20-year-old Vinicius Junior was the star for Los Blancos as he scored two goals in the 27th and 65th minute to hand Zinedine Zidane’s side a massive advantage.
With this strike he became the second youngest player to score a UCL knockout goal for Real Madrid at 20 years and 268 days after Raul Gonzalez.
Zinedine Zidane’s team dominated the entirety of the first half and the pressure exerted on Liverpool saw a mistake by Liverpool’s right-back Trent Alexander Arnold when he played a ball into the path of Marco Asensio who made full use of the opportunity and doubled the advantage for the home side.
It is pertinent to mention that Real Madrid was without the services of their two regular centre halfs Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. Captain Ramos was sidelined because of a muscle injury he picked up during the international break while Varane tested positive for COVID-19. Both the players are set to miss out the second leg in England as well as the El Classico this week.
Liverpool’s talisman Mohammad Salah pulled a goal back for his team at the start of the second half after a ball from Diogo Jota fell to him and you had the feeling that Liverpool is matching Real’s intensity on the field now.
However, Vinicius restored Real’s two-goal cushion in the 65th minute with a guided finish of a Luka Modric rolled cross that went through a defender’s legs and off Alisson’s hands before squirting in.
While Liverpool pushed, they couldn’t find another goal and will now have a steep hill to climb in the April 14 return match at Anfield.
“We didn’t let them create anything,” Vinicius said after the game.
“The tie isn’t over, Liverpool still have a great team and will do everything to win over there so we have to go out on to the pitch just as we did tonight.”
On the other hand, Liverpool’s midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum criticised his team’s lacklustre first-half display and lamented that they were not up to the mark and conceded goals which have put them back in the tie.
“Two moments of not concentrating enough and they scored. We weren’t sharp enough,” he said.
“We played our own game (in the second half) and that’s why we scored. Unfortunately, they scored and that makes it more difficult. We hoped for a better result.”