EPL: Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid
13-time UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid secured their place in the semi-final of the competition with a 3-1 win on aggregate against Liverpool. The two European giants faced off at Anfield for the second leg and the game ended in a 0-0 draw, with the damage Real Madrid caused in the reverse fixture proving to be enough.
Zinedine Zidane was forced to make a change with Fede Valverde coming in at right-back to deputise for the injured Lucas Vazquez, while James Milner was picked over Thiago Alcantara in midfield by Jurgen Klopp. Roberto Firmino for Diogo Jota was the hosts’ only other change.
Liverpool came out all guns blazing and pressed Real Madrid high up the pitch, carving out a superb opportunity for themselves in the opening couple of minutes. However, as the ball fell to Mo Salah inside the box, the Egyptian failed to find a way past the outstretched Thibaut Courtois.
The Blancos gradually grew into the game but the hosts asked a lot more questions than they did in Madrid. It was a much more cagey affair than it was at the Alfredo Di Stefano as Liverpool were hopeful of staging another famous comeback. Karim Benzema came closest to breaking the deadlock with a toe-poke which grazed the woodwork after a deflection from Nat Phillips.
Stand-in captain James Milner also tried his luck with a superb curling effort from range, but it wasn’t enough to beat Courtois. Liverpool’s wasteful finishing, however, meant that they went into half-time with no goal to show for despite having three superb chances, with two of them coming in quick succession just before the break.
The hosts began the second half in a similar fashion to the first as Liverpool attempted to force their hand in their search for an opener. Roberto Firmino was guilty of missing another costly chance after turning his marker and firing at Courtois, albeit failing to find the breakthrough.
Real Madrid then came closest to finding the first goal of the night after a raking first-time ball from Fede Valverde released Vinicius on the far left, but Alisson Becker was on his toes and made an excellent double save to deny his compatriot and Benzema.
With just about 25 minutes of regulation time remaining on the clock, Liverpool began to push higher as they tried to break down a resilient Real Madrid side. Firmino, Salah, and Diogo Jota all fashioned chances for themselves but failed to trouble Courtois. At the other end, Benzema fluffed a superb opportunity as he headed the ball into the ground powerfully just a few yards away from goal.
Liverpool ultimately crashed out of the tournament on an aggregate scoreline of 3-1 and failed to find a breakthrough in the second leg. Meanwhile, Real Madrid gear up for their 14th UCL semi-final, where they will take on Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.
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