Liverpool's Collapse Leaves Fans Stunned as Real Madrid Cruises to 5-2 UCL WinFebruary 21, 2023
Real Madrid piled further misery upon Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League with a 5-2 win in the first leg of their round-of-16 clash on Tuesday at Anfield.
The Reds jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 14th minute with goals from Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah. The second was the result of a howler from Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Los Blancos struck back with two goals from Vinícius Júnior, and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker answered Courtois' error with perhaps an even more egregious mistake.
Éder Militão put Real Madrid ahead in the 47th minute with a header from close range on a well-designed set piece.
Karim Benzema's tally in the 55th minute summed up Liverpool's fortunes on the night. The Frenchman's shot deflected in off Reds center back Joe Gomez.
With successive 2-0 wins over Everton and Newcastle, it looked like Liverpool was beginning to get things back on track amid a disappointing season. Perhaps the Reds could mount a top-four challenge in the Premier League; they are eighth with 35 points and 14 matches remaining.
Based on Tuesday's loss, nothing has changed for Jürgen Klopp's squad. Throwing away a 2-0 lead and allowing five unanswered goals in the Champions League is an epic collapse.
Real Madrid will host the second leg on March 15, and much of the drama surrounding the return fixture is already gone.
In 2019 Liverpool blitzed Barcelona in the second leg of the semifinals with four goals to overturn a three-goal deficit, and the Reds went on to lift the trophy. Even though many of the key players from that comeback are still around, this is a far different Liverpool team.
The scale of the deficit also means an all-out attack is required, which will leave a porous defense even more vulnerable.
For all intents and purposes, Liverpool's path to the Champions League next year rests firmly on securing a top-four PL finish because any hopes of winning a seventh European Cup have gone up in flames.