Real Madrid’s astonishing 5-2 victory away at Liverpool was an instant Champions League classic that smashed all kinds of records.
The reigning European champions got off to a terrible start at Anfield, going 2-0 down early on after a smart finish from Darwin Nunez and a goalkeeping howler from Thibaut Courtois put Jurgen Klopp’s side in control of the tie in the opening stages.
But Madrid responded magnificently. Vinicius Junior got the La Liga giants back into the game with a brilliant finish before a Loris Karius-esque error from Alisson resulted in Vinicius scoring his second to take the visitors level going into half-time.
Liverpool were then blown away by Madrid in the opening stages of the second half, with Eder Militao scoring from a set-piece before Karim Benzema reminded us why he’s the Ballon d’Or holder with a well-taken brace.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds huffed and puffed to close the deficit but Madrid held onto their three-goal advantage. The two sides still have to face off at the Bernabeu in the second leg, but Madrid seemingly have one foot in the quarter-finals.
“We have taken advantage after 90 minutes,” Carlo Ancelotti told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“We now have to manage and control what happens in the second leg in Madrid.
“Liverpool are a very competitive team and created a lot of problems for us at the start of the game and we have to think the same again, they will make us suffer in moments. It is not all over. I can’t say the tie is decided yet.
“What was I thinking at 2-0 down? I remembered Manchester City in the semi-final last season. We improved in that game. I was hoping the same thing might happen and we’ve done even better than that. It wasn’t unpredictable, the start. We knew we would come under pressure.”
The manner of the victory also echoed comments made by star midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, given in an interview with The Guardian the day before.
“People said we were dead. I saw a stat on the television later. It’s in the City game [last season’s Champions League semi-final] and it comes on the screen: 99% City are through, 1% Madrid. People think Madrid are dead, but Madrid are never, never dead.”
Ain’t that the truth?
Here are 10 amazing stats from Real Madrid’s gobsmacking victory away at Liverpool:
– Luka Modric is literally more than twice as old as his midfield counterpart Stefan Bajcetic, who was Liverpool’s youngest Champions League starter ever at 18 years old. Modric had already been named Bosnian Premier League Player of the Year by the time Bajcetic was born in October 2004 – but look at him sprint away from the teenager in the build-up to Madrid’s fifth.
When you have Modric, Vini jr and Benzema on the pitch… you create magic! 🪄
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 22, 2023
– Benzema has scored more goals against Liverpool in the Champions League (six) and away at Anfield (four) than any other player in the competition’s history. Vinicius is second in that regard, having taken his tally to four goals against the Reds with his brace in the 5-2 win.
– Madrid are the first-ever team to score four (and indeed five) goals away at Liverpool in the history of the European Cup. The only other team to have ever scored five against Liverpool in the history of the European Cup was Ajax back in 1966.
– 18% of the home goals Liverpool have conceded in the Champions League under Jurgen Klopp were scored by Real Madrid in the 5-2 loss – via Duncan Alexander.
– This isn’t the first time that Liverpool have led by two goals and lost 5-2. The last occasion was… in 1895, against Manchester United – via Michael Reid.
– Modric completed 50 passes (86% accuracy), one key pass and one assist, 69 touches, three successful dribbles, winning six of the eight duels he contested. He completed six passes into the final third and registered eight ball recoveries.
– Vinicius Junior was incredibly involved, registering two goals and one assist and contesting 18 duels – five more than anyone else on the pitch. The Brazil international both won (seven) and lost (11) more duels than any other player on either side on the night.
– Despite suffering a heavy defeat, Liverpool actually registered a higher rate of expected goals (2.0xG) than Real Madrid (1.7xG). It was an incredibly clinical display from Benzema and Vinicius in particular as Madrid outperformed their xG by a whopping 3.3. Numbers via OPTA:
Liverpool 2-5 Real Madrid
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) February 21, 2023
– This was the first time any team has come from behind to win at Anfield in 90 minutes since Chelsea’s 2-1 win in the League Cup in September 2018.
– During Jurgen Klopp’s reign at Liverpool, every time they’ve been in the Champions League, Liverpool have either won the competition or been knocked out by a team from Madrid (Real – 2018, 2021, 2022, Atletico – 2020). That record looks all but certain to continue.