Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool (Agg. 6-2): Player ratings as Los Blancos ease into Champions League quarters
Real Madrid finished the job they started at Anfield last month by securing a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Los Blancos were the better side on the night and Karim Benzema’s 19th goal of the season in the closing stages added to the 5-2 aggregate lead they had built from the first leg.
Liverpool needed to make a fast start to have any chance of the impossible and had the first clear chance only six minutes in when Mohamed Salah capitalised on a slip from Antonio Rudiger and fed the ball through to Darwin Nunez – his low shot was blocked by Thibaut Courtois’ feet.
But a stark reminder of Real’s danger came moments later when, after a slick move, a better square pass from Toni Kroos would have given Benzema a tap-in. Kroos himself also went close in the early stage, smashing a left-footed drive that Liverpool were grateful was straight at Alisson.
Los Blancos remained closest to breaking the deadlock when Alisson somehow denied Vinicius from point-blank range. Another outstanding save followed, the merest of touches tipping Eduardo Camavinga’s curling long-range shot onto the crossbar. The Brazilian didn’t get near a subsequent rocket from Luka Modric and was grateful to see it just miss the target.
Liverpool’s decent start had long since dissipated by the time Nunez and Cody Gakpo tested Courtois in fairly quick succession just after the half hour mark. The Belgian tipped the first wide of the far post, before a strong near post parry to deny the powerful second.
It became even more clear once the second half got going that Liverpool were being kept in it by their goalkeeper. One after the other, Alisson saved from Federico Valverde and Benzema. Just after the hour mark, Valverde wasn’t far away again when he headed just over.
Real had been too good, although opportunities kept going begging. Benzema knew he should have done better upon blazing over after being found by Vinicius Junior.
Having created plenty of visually appealing chances all night, it was probably how it was meant to be that when the stalemate was eventually ended it was scrappy to say the least. Benzema initially fluffed his lines under pressure from Virgil van Dijk, but the ball broke to Vinicius, who then slipped yet had the presence of mind to poke it back to Benzema for the tap-in.
The end of the game was delayed for a lengthy VAR check for a possible Real penalty when the ball struck the arm of substitute Kostas Tsimikas. It had bounced up off his thigh and even though referee Felix Zwayer was advised to look at the pitchside monitor, the right call was made.
Real Madrid player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Thibaut Courtois - 7/10 - Made saves when called upon, particularly one early on that could have changed the tie had it gone in. But didn't have loads to do overall.
RB: Dani Carvajal - 8/10 - Didn't give Liverpool a sniff down his flank.
CB: Eder Militao - 7/10 - Defensively sound.
CB: Antonio Rudiger - 6/10 - Didn't always looked the most assured, especially when Salah was buzzing around, but got the job done in the end.
LB: Nacho - 7/10 - So dependable.
CM: Luka Modric - 8/10 - Pretty flawless in dictating the game.
CM: Eduardo Camavinga - 8/10 - Played with confidence and maturity beyond his years at the heart of the team. Hit the bar when Alisson tipped his swerving shot onto the woodwork.
CM: Toni Kroos - 8/10 - Worked really well with Vinicius in the left channel.
RW: Federico Valverde - 7/10 - Not scared of trying his luck and made sure that Robertson was largely pinned back.
ST: Karim Benzema (c) - 7/10 - Had a number of chances and should have taken at least one before he actually scored. Hobbled off soon after, which will be a concern ahead of Sunday's Clasico.
LW: Vinicius Junior - 8/10 - Made a bright and confident start. Denied by an outstanding Alisson save in the first half, gave Alexander-Arnold a pretty torrid time and finished with an assist.
SUB: Dani Ceballos (82' for Modric) - N/A
SUB: Rodrygo (82' for Benzema) - N/A
SUB: Marco Asensio (84' for Vinicius) - N/A
SUB: Aurelien Tchouameni (84' for Kroos) - N/A
SUB: Lucas Vazquez (86' for Carvajal) - N/A
Carlo Ancelotti - 8/10 - No concerns that his team weren't taking chances because they were always in control. Made his changes when the job was well and truly done.
Liverpool player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Alisson - 9/10 - Liverpool could have conceded five again without him.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold - 4/10 - No surprise that he struggled defensively, but this wasn't a good night for him on the ball either. Sloppy.
CB: Ibrahima Konate - 5/10 - Gave the ball away too easily.
CB: Virgil van Dijk - 5/10 - Ought to have done better when Real eventually did score.
LB: Andrew Robertson - 6/10 - The better of Liverpool's two full-backs but still a rough night.
CM: Fabinho - 7/10 - Actually performed quite well but Liverpool lacked bodies in the middle.
CM: James Milner (c) - 5/10 - Worked hard but was never on the same level as Real.
RM: Mohamed Salah - 6/10 - Pace made him a threat and he was more involved than his teammates.
AM: Cody Gakpo - 6/10 - Tracked all the way back to make a potentially goal-saving tackle on Benzema early on. Forced Courtois into a decent first half save.
LM: Diogo Jota - 4/10 - Might as well have not been on the pitch.
ST: Darwin Nunez - 5/10 - Had chances but couldn't take them. Hardly touched the ball overall.
SUB: Roberto Firmino (57' for Nunez) - 5/10
SUB: Harvey Elliott (57' for Jota) - 6/10
SUB: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (73' for Milner) - 5/10
SUB: Fabio Carvalho (90+2' for Gakpo) - N/A
SUB: Kostas Tsimikas (90+2' for Robertson) - N/A
Jurgen Klopp - 5/10 - Had no response to a very solid Real Madrid performance. Allowed his emotions to boil over in the second half and was cautioned by the referee.