Real Madrid Tops Mo Salah, Liverpool 3-1 in 1st Leg of UCL Quarterfinal

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2021

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Champions League quarterfinal first leg, soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Vinicius Junior helped Real Madrid earn a 3-1 win over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. 

The 20-year-old scored two goals Tuesday as the La Liga squad grabbed an early advantage in the two-leg knockout-stage battle. Marco Asensio also scored in an impressive offensive showing for the home team.

Though Mohamed Salah got a key away goal for Liverpool, the English club will have to overcome the two-goal deficit in the second leg.

This rematch of the 2018 UCL final features two clubs that have recently won European titles (Liverpool in 2019, Real Madrid in 2016-18), although both are coming off disappointing round-of-16 exits in 2020. They each appear to be legitimate contenders to win it all again in 2021, but they will have to get past each other after a tough draw.

The tie will conclude on April 14 at Anfield, with the aggregate winner advancing to the semifinals for a matchup against the winner of Chelsea and Porto.

Real Madrid took control early in Tuesday's match, getting the majority of chances while putting a lot of pressure on Alisson in goal.

Vinicius Junior helped his team break through in the 27th minute before adding to the lead in the second half.

B/R Football @brfootball

Could watch this pass from Toni Kroos all day ✨ (🎥 @UCLonCBSSports) https://t.co/aN1ZvNInOd

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

Vinicius Junior. Again. 🇧🇷 https://t.co/X7cVAv8afW

A veteran midfielder earned an assist in both cases as Toni Kroos and Luka Modric provided excellent balls for the young forward.

Kroos was especially impressive in the match with several great passes:

Drake Hills @LiveLifeDrake

The range of passing on Toni Kroos is laughable in the most impressive sense

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

Toni Kroos is putting on a damn clinic. Pulling strings in midfield like Liverpool isn't even there. Everyone worried about Real Madrid's defense, but they still have the Kroos-Modric-Casemiro engine Real Madrid leading 2-0 after Vinicius Jr & Asensio finishes, 39th minute.

SofaScore @SofaScoreINT

⚠️ | QUICK STAT Toni Kroos' assist for Vinícius Júnior was his 85th accurate long ball in the Champions League this season - no other outfield player completed more than 56 accurate long balls in the competition in 2020/21. What. A. Player. 💫 #RMALIV #UCL https://t.co/a1o5jBQ6GD

Real Madrid's second goal of the match came thanks to a bad mistake from Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold assists Real Madrid's Marco Asensio to make it 2-0 😬 @brfootball (🎥 @UCLonCBSSports) https://t.co/Pk6amUZW9N

Asensio had an excellent finish to beat the keeper, but the opportunity was still a gift from the young fullback.

There were positive moments for Liverpool in the second half as the club gained more possession and earned more chances around the net.

Salah eventually found the back of the net in the 51st minute:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

Mo Salah gets a huge away goal 💥 https://t.co/Vo6BnplGh6

This cut the score down to 2-1 at the time, but Real Madrid was able to get it back and put itself in excellent shape after one leg.

Real Madrid entered the match shorthanded defensively with key defenders Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane both unavailable, per Dermot Corrigan of The Athletic. Liverpool has also been without their first choice center backs in Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.

It left an open match with each mistake magnified, and the attackers on both sides were able to take advantage.

One club was more prepared than the other, though, and it leaves Real Madrid with a solid chance to earn a spot in the UCL semifinals.