A brace from Vinicius Junior and another goal from Marco Asensio was enough to give Los Blancos a healthy lead heading into the second leg of the tie next week.
The Reds lacked the tempo and urgency from the start and they were rightly punished early on by Vinicius. Liverpool’s success in the last two seasons was based on their relentless pressing and speed on the counter. They failed to show both of those qualities tonight.
Liverpool were sloppy in the midfield and they kept giving the ball away. With players like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos against them, the Reds needed to press better and give them as little time as possible on the ball.
Instead, Modric and Kroos had all the time and space. The Real Madrid duo dominated the game from start to finish. Kroos’ chipped ball behind the Liverpool defence resulted in the opening goal and the German international was involved in the second goal of the game as well.
Zidane will be delighted with the showing of his fringe defenders – Militao, Vazquez and Nacho. Both players did well to keep the Liverpool attackers in check throughout the game.
Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold produced an abysmal defensive showing tonight and Real Madrid winger Vinicius skinned him time and again. The England defender was out of position for the first goal and his poor clearance resulted in the second goal of the game.
Gareth Southgate recently left him out of the England squad because of his defensive vulnerabilities and the England manager’s decision has been vindicated tonight.
Jurgen Klopp decided to change things around with a substitution around the 42nd minute mark. Thiago Alcantara was brought on to dominate the possession in place of Naby Keita.
The Spaniard did reasonably well in the second half and the Reds showed improvement.
Mohamed Salah’s 51st-minute strike gave Liverpool the hope they needed early on in the second half but the home side wiped out any chance of a comeback with their third goal.
Liverpool have produced miraculous comebacks in the second legs before, but this will be an uphill challenge for them without Henderson and Van Dijk. Furthermore, the Anfield crowd won’t be present to cheer them on either.
It remains to be seen how the second leg unfolds in a week’s time. The Reds have been very poor in the Premier League and the Champions League is their only chance of finishing the season with a trophy. Tonight’s defeat will come as a major blow to their morale.
I’m very happy for another goal and for the win. It was an important match for us. We are very happy but this isn’t over, we still have the second leg. It was a great night and it gives us a lot of confidence.Marco Asensio
Courtois, Lucas, Militao, Nacho, Mendy, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson, Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Jota