Liverpool's Collapse Leaves Fans Stunned as Real Madrid Cruises to 5-2 UCL Win

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 21, 2023

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: Eder Militao of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring the team's third goal with teammate Nacho Fernandez during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 leg one match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield on February 21, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
Alex Livesey - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

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.

B/R Football @brfootball

Thibaut Courtois 🫠<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/TUDNUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TUDNUSA</a>) <a href="https://t.co/3rH5qGaYP8">pic.twitter.com/3rH5qGaYP8</a>

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.

B/R Football @brfootball

Just as Vini Jr planned it 🙃<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/CBSSportsGolazo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBSSportsGolazo</a>) <a href="https://t.co/AbEr5RFXx7">pic.twitter.com/AbEr5RFXx7</a>

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.

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

It goes from bad to worse for Liverpool.<br><br>Real Madrid has their fourth of the day. 💫 <a href="https://t.co/UEMaVDOhkz">pic.twitter.com/UEMaVDOhkz</a>

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.

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

Liverpool vs. Real Madrid: <a href="https://t.co/EUxwPc2AhE">pic.twitter.com/EUxwPc2AhE</a>

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers


Anfield Watch @AnfieldWatch

Liverpool were 2-0 up in this game. To then concede 5 goals, at home, is extremely and deeply concerning.

Andrew Das @AndrewDasNYT

I'm old enough to remember when this game was going well for Liverpool.

Frank Isola @TheFrankIsola

John Henry should have sold Liverpool before Real Madrid came to town.

Alex Shephard @alex_shephard

Liverpool's defense <a href="https://t.co/UbYy9V8Ruz">pic.twitter.com/UbYy9V8Ruz</a>

Scott Saunders @_scottsaunders

Liverpool even had the "Anfield On A Great European Night!" start and they've just been absolutely destroyed since. Incredible scenes and indeed a great night at Anfield 🤣


Real Madrid's front three have been lethal whereas Liverpool's have petered out as soon as Real Madrid scored their first. That's the difference along with some poor basic defending.

Jamie Easton Gombau @eastonjamie

Defensively speaking, Liverpool are one of the worst teams I've seen in ages. My word.

Caoimhe O'Neill @CaoimheSport

Some truly calamitous stuff from Liverpool.

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.