Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that the Reds made it ‘too easy’ for Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Tuesday night, with the Spanish giants now holding a 3-1 aggregate lead ahead of the return leg at Anfield next week.
Real took a 2-0 first-half lead in Madrid courtesy of goals from Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio. Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool a lifeline and away goal soon after half-time, but a second on the night from Vinicius extended the deficit and gives the Merseysiders a mountain to climb.
Despite a vastly improved performance in the Premier League against Arsenal at the weekend, Liverpool lacked their usual energy and vigour.
The first Real goal saw no pressure on the ball, allowing Toni Kroos to the split the defence with one pass from deep to put Vinicius in. There was again no pressure on the pass that led to the second, with the opening created by a mistake from Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Liverpool defenders were slow to react and afforded Real players too much time and space for the third.
"If you want to go to the semi-final, you have to earn the right to do so. We didn't do that, especially in the first half,” Klopp told BT Sport after the final whistle.
"We just didn't play good enough football to cause Real Madrid more problems. We made it too easy for them. The only good thing I can say, apart from the goal, is it's only the first half of the tie. We didn't deserve a lot more but that one goal and the second half was okay. It gives us a lifeline."
Liverpool are up against in the second leg as Real have won 15 of their last 16 Champions League knockout ties in which they have won the first leg. The Reds pulled off an unthinkable aggregate comeback against Barcelona en route to winning the Champions League in 2019, overturning a 3-0 first-leg defeat by winning 4-0 at Anfield, but Klopp thinks not having fans makes a repeat tough.
“If you want to have some emotional memories, you watch the Barcelona game back and 80% of this game was the atmosphere in the stadium, I would say. We have to do without that,” Klopp is quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo.
“It’s not that I sit here and think comebacks are our thing and that we do that all the time. We have from time to time, but we always had supporters in the stadium. We don’t have that this time. I don’t know if we can do it, but I can promise we will give it a proper try.”