Real Madrid Find Liverpool in a Different League

GonzaloCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2009

Yossi Benayoun's header brought Real Madrid's run of nine consecutive victories to a crashing halt as Liverpool took the lead at the Bernabéu in their last 16 Champions League encounter with Real Madrid.

The result was testament to Rafa Benítez's technical and tactical abilities, especially in cup ties. While Real Madrid started more brightly and played more fluidly, they crashed time and time again into Liverpool's carefully crafted defence.

A couple of early chances and a goal disallowed for offside were all Real had to show for in the first half, as the visitors slowly took control and even had the better of the period, with Casillas keeping out shots from Torres and Benanyoun, as well as a spectacular long-range effort from Xabi Alonso.

Juande Ramos brought Guti on for Marcelo after the break in an attempt to inject some fluidity into Real's attack, and perhaps hoping the Real Madrid veteran could find that killer pass that would unlock the Liverpool defence. It was all to no avail.

The side that had coolly slotted six goals past a hapless Betis in one half on the weekend, found Liverpool and the Champions League an altogether tougher proposition. Only long range shots from Robben and Higuaín troubled Pepe Reina, and not much at that.

With the game finely poised at 0-0, Heinze unnecessarily brought down Dirk Kuyt on the edge of the area. Fabio Aurelio curled in the resulting free kick and an unmarked Benayoun headed the ball past Casillas.

Expect two weeks of talk of "epic comebacks" from the press and the fact that everything is not lost. It's not an insurmountable task, but it will take several flashes of genius for Real Madrid to triumph at Anfield and move into the quarterfinals.

View the original article at the All In White blog.