As the red shirts streamed forward in the early stages at Anfield on Wednesday night, it seemed maybe, just maybe, there was another stirring European comeback on the cards for Liverpool.
James Milner set the tone with a crunching tackle on Karim Benzema after just 49 seconds. Barely a minute after that, Sadio Mane was teeing up Mohamed Salah for a chance he should have buried.
Liverpool kept on coming, creating enough opportunities to make their fans - sadly absent from the famous old stadium - believe the 3-1 deficit from the first leg would soon be reduced.
There were hearts in mouths when a Benzema shot struck the post but Liverpool were immediately back on the front foot.
Salah blasted another chance over, then Georginio Wijnaldum did the same, burying his face in his hands at his own profligacy.
"We had massive chances in the beginning of the game," rued Jurgen Klopp afterwards. "You use one of them and it opens it up."
Instead, Real Madrid were able to shut it down. But only after surviving a first-half blitz that was evocative of this Liverpool side as we know them best.
Even Toni Kroos, usually coolness personified, appeared ill at ease with their intensity, misplacing routine passes as Liverpool players swarmed around him and, at one point midway through the first half, even spraying a cross-field ball straight out of play.
Liverpool's ferocious pressing had a dizzying effect on Madrid and there was even a quickly-taken corner in the opening stages - Trent Alexander-Arnold picking out the unmarked Milner in the box - which was reminiscent of their fourth and decisive goal during the 2019 comeback against Barcelona.
Sadly for Liverpool, their hopes of replicating that extraordinary night receded during the second half. Real Madrid regained their composure and brought the game back down to tempo which suited them. "They played the time down," said Klopp with a smile.Image: Georginio Wijnaldum shows his frustration after a missed chance
But Liverpool did at least exit the competition looking more like themselves. "The performance in general was good, it was much better," added Klopp. "We didn't lose the tie tonight, we lost it in Madrid."
"It's disappointing," added Milner, "because if we had played the first leg with that intensity it would have been a different story."
It is that first-leg performance which will haunt them.
Liverpool barely laid a glove on Zinedine Zidane's side during the first half in Madrid and even when they did pull a goal back, the hosts were able to re-establish a deserved two-goal advantage.
It was always going to be a huge ask to turn the tie around but producing a performance in line with their identity was Liverpool's best hope of doing it and they certainly managed that.
"We did everything we wanted to do other than get the two goals," said Milner. "You always need those key moments," added Klopp.Top-four focus from here on in Image: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino rues a missed opportunity
The challenge now, with a slimmed-down schedule containing only Premier League fixtures, is to continue in the same vein domestically.
Liverpool's title hopes are long over but a top-four finish is not out of reach. In fact, they are only three points behind fourth-placed West Ham with seven games still to play.
"I think the most important thing is that we concentrate on our level of performance," added Milner. "If we perform with the intensity, desire and tempo that we played with tonight for the last league games then hopefully we can get into those top-four spots."
Their Premier League form bodes well. Liverpool have won three consecutive games in the competition - against Aston Villa, Arsenal and Wolves - for the first time since the opening weeks of the season and the opportunity is there to build momentum.
Their Monday Night Football meeting with Leeds - "leading-all-physical-stats-in-the-league Leeds," as Klopp called them in his post-match interview - will test their stamina following their European exertions.
But victory at Elland Road could close the gap further on the teams above them and five of Liverpool's final six games after that are against teams in the bottom half.
It is a kind run-in for a side targeting a strong finish and it is down to Liverpool to recover from their European disappointment and take advantage of it.Important transfer window to come Image: Jurgen Klopp tried to remain positive after the game
It will not be easy but Wednesday's performance showed the players are still behind Klopp and still able to perform with the energy and intensity he demands. It also underlined the need for reinforcements this summer, however.
Klopp rued the timing of his substitutions in his post-match interview, admitting they stalled Liverpool's momentum rather than boosting it - "we lost a little bit of rhythm in that moment," he said - but the personnel were surely the bigger issue.
Diogo Jota had some bright moments and has done plenty this season to show he has a bright future at Anfield but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri offered little and Naby Keita did not make it on at all after his poor showing in the first leg.
The midfield requires major surgery this summer and the uncertainty over Wijnaldum's new contract only adds to the urgency.
Seven of Liverpool's 11 starters on Wednesday night were in the team that faced Real Madrid in the 2018 final and the number would have been higher without their injuries.
The need for a refresh is obvious. Liverpool's lack of depth has been their undoing this season and it did not help them as they searched for solutions in the second half on Wednesday night.
Indeed, while another famous European comeback appeared to be in the offing earlier on, it was more in keeping with their season that they ultimately fell short. Liverpool may yet achieve a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, but a return to the very top requires further work.
Liverpool Football Club remembers the 96 supporters who died at Hillsborough, on the 32nd anniversary of the disaster.
As a result of the events on April 15, 1989, at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, 96 children, women and men lost their lives.
For more than three decades, the bereaved families and survivors of the tragedy have demonstrated remarkable courage, dignity and resilience.
In April 2016, an inquest jury concluded that the 96 were unlawfully killed and that no role was played by the supporters in causing the disaster.
Our thoughts, as always, are with all those affected by the tragedy at Hillsborough and the 96 fans who will never be forgotten.
Liverpool’s Champions League campaign is over despite a rousing second-leg showing against Real Madrid, a 0-0 draw sending the Reds out on aggregate.Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid (1-3 agg)
Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg, Anfield
April 14, 2021
There were questions pre-game over what the best midfield arrangement would be: a two-man pivot with more attackers on the pitch? Gini and Thiago as the 8s or a complete change of approach from Klopp?
Ultimately it was the ‘steady’ option the boss opted for, the mix of players which can keep the passes simple and reliable, but also offer the off-the-ball defensive work and covering in the channels which could guard against Real’s counter-attacking threat.
James Milner starting might not excite the masses, but he was clearly picked as part enforcer, part recovery runner – while Gini barely misses a minute anyway.
Thiago was the first option off the bench, as a result, but it perhaps would have been more ideal to see him on when Real were behind and being pinned back – as they should have been.
It was a plan which largely went well in that first half, a mixture of aggression and supporting passes forward, but of course that left the reliance of actually scoring on the attacking trio.
That shouldn’t have been an issue, given the chances presented to them.Clinical edge
It could have been 1-0 to the Reds five minutes in. It could have been 5-0 to the Reds at the break. Salah, Mane and Gini all had very good openings, plus a few half-sights and almost-openings which fell our way.
Confidence-boosting, for sure, but not deficit-reducing in the end.
Jurgen’s half-time team talk would have been supremely easy: keep doing everything the same, but find that finishing touch.
Minutes after the restart though it was a case of same old story: Firmino had one reasonable and one excellent chance. Courtois came to the rescue on the latter.
Salah missed two more openings, Jota off the bench rifled one into the side netting.
Liverpool had their chances, boy did they have their chances. At the weekend the long overdue home win arrived, but with it came the stat of less than one in a hundred shots finding the back of the net.
It was always a stretch to think we’d be able to fashion 200 against Los Blancos, even if the crowd had have been in place.Anfield improvement
The Champions League campaign is over, but the season as a whole isn’t – but results at home simply had to improve.
That win over Aston Villa, plus a largely dominant and improved performance here, certainly suggests that Liverpool have put any questions of a home-ground hoodoo behind them.
Scoring remains an issue, yes, but we won’t play Real Madrid and Thibaut Courtois every week.
There was enough intensity in the game, clever passing in the final third and bodies getting into the box to take shots to suggest that future games can be won, perhaps enough to claw back ground on the teams above in the league.Big positives to take
Being out of Europe is bad enough, so let’s not focus on those who didn’t hit top gear.
Alisson had precisely one thing to do all game and it was perfectly done: stopping Vinicius Jr’s attempted flick over him and smothering Benzema on the rebound. This was more like the sharp, authoritative Ali we know and need.
The full-backs both more than played their part, the regular outlet and creative force again, perhaps not inch-perfect with every ball but relentless, hard-working, tracking back their men and looking for cut-backs when possible.
Fabinho barely missed a trick and not much more needs to be said about him.
And in the first half, Firmino and Mane were very good for the most part, dangerous and creating openings – though both faded after the break.
Both need to rediscover their shooting boots, but there’s scope for optimism.League focus once more
So the season boils down to something very simple: seven matches, two league positions and three points to make up.
We’ll need a near-perfect end to the season to do it, but this Liverpool side is capable of unbeaten streaks. Even in this dismal overall campaign, the Reds are now on a run which is five unbeaten in the last six.
Leeds and Newcastle must both be viewed as three-point fixtures, that much is clear.
Beyond that, we’ll see the lay of the land: all the top sides will still drop points between now and the end, and it isn’t as simple as a single day off costing a top-four finish.
But there’s little margin for error and above all else, that goalscoring, clinical, confident touch in the box must be found.
A little better in that regard this time around and the Reds would have been headline material once more.
Instead, it’s back to the training ground to recover, reconsider and recharge for one final push – which will be decisive for both this season and next.
Jurgen Klopp says it is important Liverpool return to the Champions League by finishing in the Premier League's top four after exiting this season's competition at the hands of Real Madrid at the quarter-final stage.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Liverpool created numerous opportunities in the second leg but failed to find their goalscoring boots as Real Madrid secured their passage to the last four, where they will play Chelsea, by battling to a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
The result means Liverpool's season will finish without silverware, but they still have the chance to secure a top-four finish in the Premier league and a return to next season's Champions League, starting with a trip to Leeds, live on Sky Sports Premier League on Monday Night Football.Monday 19th April 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm
With seven games of the season remaining for Liverpool, Klopp insists his side are ready to fight right until the end to secure their Champions League place.
Asked if his side's performance against Real Madrid gave him confidence that they can go on and secure a top-four finish, he said: "That has nothing to do with confidence, I would say I am naturally confident, but that doesn't mean we will end up there.
"We just can read the table, we know the points, we know the situation and stuff like this. We know who we play and we don't have to talk too much about it. I said now what we think about it and, yes, we want and we have to - and if we want that we should play really good football, what we did tonight.
"But if we want to go through then we should finish those situations off on top of that because that is very helpful as well."
He added: "I think we are not in a bad moment at the moment; we played pretty well even when it was a late winner against Aston Villa. We played a good game against them, we played really good against Arsenal and not too good against Real Madrid in the first leg, but in the other games we were not bad.
"Tonight, a good game, so we just have to keep going. We really have to keep going, we have to keep fighting, we want to be in the Champions League next year but in the moment we still have to pick up more points than a lot of other teams.
"We love this competition and for other reasons it is very important we are back in it. We can now concentrate on the Premier League and we will. We have to work our socks off against Leeds."'Defeat won't impact us negatively' Image: Klopp says defeat will not impact Liverpool negatively
Klopp insists defeat to Real Madrid will not affect his side negatively and promised they would be ready for the challenge of Leeds next Monday.
"That will not happen that it impacts us negatively," he said. "We are not silly. We want what we earn. If we don't earn it 100 per cent, then we respect the situation that we don't get it.
"How I said, tonight if we scored an early goal this game would've been a different one - I think everybody knows that but it's hypothetical, we didn't. But it has now no impact on the Premier League, apart from that we don't play midweeks at least internationally - I'm pretty sure Premier League plays midweeks if I'm right.
"So we can concentrate and focus on the Premier League - what we will and what we have to. But it's tough just because we are still not in the hot seat, I would say, and we face Leeds on Monday, so that's a tough one.
"What can I say? They are the leader in all physical stats in the Premier League pretty much, so you better run a lot yourself. We have a few days until then, we will use that and then we make sure we are ready for that."'We lost the game in Madrid'
9 - This was Liverpool’s ninth two-legged knockout tie in the UEFA Champions League under Jürgen Klopp, and only the second time they have failed to win both home and away in the tie (also versus Atlético de Madrid in the Last 16 in 2019-20). Real. pic.twitter.com/7oR5lW4hWL— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
Liverpool could not fashion another of their famous European comebacks as, despite registering 15 shots, they managed just four shots on target as Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois remained largely untested.
But what really cost them was their performance in the Spanish capital for last week's first leg when a poor opening 45 minutes led to them losing 3-1.
"We started the game really well. We didn't lose the tie tonight, we lost the game in Madrid, it was clear," added Klopp.
"If we had gone 1-0 up it would have been a different game but because of the experience of Real Madrid and their situation we had to chase the game and they controlled the game and had counter-attacking chances themselves.
"With two good performances we would have had a better chance."'We just didn't finish' Image: Mohamed Salah spurned a number of opportunities as Liverpool exited the Champions League
Liverpool created enough chances but they were just not clinical enough in front of goal, a failing which has cost them already this season.
"It was uncomfortable for Madrid, we were good, we were aggressive, we played some really good stuff, had massive chances in the beginning of the game," said Klopp.
"If we used one of them, it opens up. They had already struggles, it would have increased that.
"It is a little bit ourselves this year because we had ridiculous games here we should have won, not tonight but in the Premier League, where we just didn't finish.
"Many times Mo Salah finished these type of things. We had many situations and we could have created more because the football we made was better."'Liverpool weren't ruthless; The damage was done in the first leg' Image: Georginio Wijnaldum shows his frustration after another Liverpool chance goes begging
Clinton Morrison on Sky Sports News:
"With fans in there at Anfield they definitely would've scored because there were times when they were creating numerous chances and they just weren't ruthless enough in front of goal.
"You wanted the chances to fall to Salah and he had big opportunities, but you have to credit Courtois and the Real Madrid defenders. I thought they defended brilliantly.
"However, on another night Liverpool could have come away winning that game 3-0. They were so comfortable. I never thought Real Madrid were going to score They had one great chance through Vinicius Jr when Alisson made a great save, other than that it was all Liverpool.
"But the damage was done in the first leg."Zidane: We knew we had to suffer Image: Real Madrid will face Chelsea in the Champions league semi-finals
Real coach Zinedine Zidane was delighted to be through to the semi-finals, where they will face Chelsea.
"We were up against it and we knew we had to suffer tonight, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was to go through.
3 - Real Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against them (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever UEFA Champions League meeting. Foes. pic.twitter.com/gBdCV3ZgTE— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
"I think we handled the game well, we rode the storm and can be proud of our display.
"We knew they'd start fast and they were really good in the opening 15 minutes, but that's normal.
"In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to dig in and we did that and got through."
There can be no questioning the intent and desire from the Reds in their second leg meeting with Real Madrid, but ultimately wayward finishing and mistakes in the Spanish capital proved costly.
The task was clear in that a 2-0 win would suffice in overcoming the 3-1 loss from the first leg, and while the Anfield clash was dominated by Liverpool they would have nothing to show for it.
It lends itself to questions of ‘what if?’ but the Reds can now only look to ensure Champions League nights return next season by finishing in the top four.
And Klopp reflected on the night by conceded the chances were there to win, but now focus will be on finishing the domestic season as strong as possible after three successive victories.
“With the experience of Real Madrid, we have to chase the game and then they could counter. And obviously, as we saw tonight, we had chances,” Klopp told reporters.
“We are not silly, we want what we earn. If we don’t earn it, we don’t get it.
“We just the read the table, we know the points. We want and we have to and if want it we need to play really good football.
“I think we are not in a bad moment, played really well. Good game v Arsenal, Villa and tonight.”
Liverpool have seven games remaining in their top-flight campaign and currently sit three points behind fourth-placed West Ham, where a trip to Leeds is next on the agenda on Monday night.
The hosts could not fashion another of their famous European comebacks as despite registering 15 shots they managed just four on target and Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was barely tested.
But what really cost them was their performance in the Spanish capital for last week’s first leg when their opening 45 minutes was woeful and led to them losing 3-1.
“We started the game really well. We didn’t lose the tie tonight, we lost the game in Madrid, it was clear,” he said.
“If we had gone 1-0 up it would have been a different game but because of the experience of Real Madrid and their situation we had to chase the game and they controlled the game and had counter-attacking chances themselves.
“With two good performances we would have had a better chance.”
Liverpool created enough chances but they were just not clinical enough in front of goal, a failing which has cost them already this season.
“It was uncomfortable for Madrid, we were good, we were aggressive, we played some really good stuff, had massive chances in the beginning of the game,” he added.
“If we used one of them, it opens up. They had already struggles, it would have increased that.
“It is a little bit ourselves this year because we had ridiculous games here we should have won, not tonight but in the Premier League, where we just didn’t finish.
“Many times Mo Salah finished these type of things. We had many situations and we could have created more because the football we made was better.”
Real coach Zinedine Zidane was delighted to be through to the semi-finals, where they will face Chelsea.
“We have suffered tonight under pressure but we have got through this quarter-final tie,” he said.
“I think we deserve to have got through this round. We knew they would make it hard for us but we controlled parts of the game very well.
“We were very solid. It was a game which was very important for us to get through and we gave it everything we’ve got.”
Jürgen Klopp was pleased with Liverpool's improved showing against Real Madrid on Wednesday night but rued the first-leg display after his side were eliminated from the Champions League.
The Reds exit the competition at the quarter-final stage following a 3-1 aggregate defeat by Zinedine Zidane's team in their last-eight tie.
Tasked with overcoming a two-goal deficit at Anfield, Klopp's men applied heavy pressure on the Real backline throughout the second leg but, ultimately, were unable to find a breakthrough on the night and drew 0-0.
Read on for a summary of the boss' post-match press conference...
On how close he was to getting the performance that would have got Liverpool through...
We started the game extremely well and could have obviously scored there early, but we didn't. So, we were good in the game, we played much better. We didn't lose the tie tonight, we lost the game obviously in Madrid, that's clear, with the performance we put out there, which was not good enough. Today it was good enough to go 1-0 up for sure and then it would've been a different game. So, with the experience of Real Madrid and the situation like you have to chase a game, that you have to score and stuff like this, it got more and more difficult obviously. So they controlled the game from a specific moment on, had then their counter-attacking chances themselves. But obviously what we saw tonight, with two good performances we would've had a better chance to go through. One good performance without scoring then anyway was not enough.
On ensuring the elimination acts as motivation rather than impacts negatively...
That will not happen that it impacts us negatively. We are not silly. We want what we earn. If we don't earn it 100 per cent, then we respect the situation that we don't get it. How I said, tonight if we scored an early goal this game would've been a different one – I think everybody knows that but it's hypothetical, we didn't. But it has now no impact on the Premier League, apart from that we don't play midweeks at least internationally – I'm pretty sure Premier League plays midweeks if I'm right. So we can concentrate and focus on the Premier League – what we will and what we have to. But it's tough just because we are still not in the hot seat, I would say, and we face Leeds on Monday, so that's a tough one. What can I say? They are the leader in all physical stats in the Premier League pretty much, so you better run a lot yourself. We have a few days until then, we will use that and then we make sure we are ready for that.
On whether tonight's performance gives him confidence Liverpool can secure a return to the Champions League next season…
That has nothing to do with confidence, I would say I am naturally confident, but that doesn't mean we will end up there. We just can read the table, we know the points, we know the situation and stuff like this. We know who we play and we don't have to talk too much about it. I said now what we think about it and, yes, we want and we have to – and if we want that we should play really good football, what we did tonight. But if we want to go through then we should finish those situations off on top of that because that is very helpful as well. I think we are not in a bad moment at the moment; we played pretty well even when it was a late winner against Aston Villa. We played a good game against them, we played really good against Arsenal and not too good against Real Madrid in the first leg, but in the other games we were not bad. Tonight, a good game, so we just have to keep going. We really have to keep going, we have to keep fighting, we want to be in the Champions League next year but in the moment we still have to pick up more points than a lot of other teams.
On who he believes will win the Champions League and his thoughts on Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos...
Who wins the Champions League I honestly could not care less. Who will win the final I think they will deserve it. There are four incredibly strong teams in, so congratulations already to whoever will do that. Courtois is a really good goalie and that's it. I think we controlled the three midfielders tonight much better than in the first leg. That means when you let them play then they are pretty much unplayable but if you defend them well, like we did tonight, then they have their problems as well because they are human beings. We learned a lot from the first game, how to do it differently, we used that tonight and it could have been enough but it wasn't because we didn't score.
James Milner rued missed chances after Liverpool were eliminated from the Champions League by Real Madrid.
The Reds went into Wednesday night’s quarter-final second leg at Anfield needing to overturn a 3-1 deficit from last week’s match in the Spanish capital.
But, despite a much-improved display from Jürgen Klopp's side that featured 15 shots on goal, Real held out for a 0-0 draw that sees them through to the last four.
Milner told BT Sport: “I thought the performance was good. The intensity [and] desire were good, we won the ball back well, pressed pretty well.
“But you can’t not take the chances we had tonight. We had more than enough chances to do what we needed to do and we didn’t take them and that was the difference unfortunately.”
Read on for the rest of the captain’s post-match interview…
On Liverpool's profligacy in front of goal…
The positive is that we’re creating them [chances], especially against a team like this, and the reaction we showed after the first leg. We have done enough tonight to go through, I believe that with the chances we had. We were obviously the better team. Ali’s made a good save as well, which you’re going to expect, but we did enough to win the game and do what we needed to do. But if you don’t take your chances… and you only need that first one, if you get the first one then obviously it changes the game again but if you don’t take your chances then you’re not going to go through.
On their high-tempo start to the game…
We wanted to come out of the blocks and make sure they had no time on the ball, and set that tempo and intensity. I think that carried through then from early on and maybe with a few of the substitutions - sometimes you lose your way a bit for a few minutes until the guys get into the game, maybe that cost us a few minutes of time, but we came again and had chances once the boys come on and felt the tempo of the game. It’s disappointing, a disappointing way to end obviously, because if we’d have played the first leg with that same intensity I’m sure it could have been a different story.
On the Reds giving themselves ‘a mountain to climb’ with their performance in the first leg…
We did. From our poor performance [in the] first leg, but you could say we’ve left ourselves too much to do because we haven’t done it, but like I said, we have done enough tonight to probably win the game if we take our chances. But ultimately we weren’t good enough over the two games. It was a good effort tonight, I thought there were some outstanding performances. Nat Phillips again was absolutely fantastic at the back. Again, it’s disappointing because we did everything we wanted to do other than get the two goals, which is obviously the most important thing.
On refocusing on securing a top-four finish in the Premier League…
The most important thing is we concentrate on our level of performance and if we perform with that level of intensity and desire and tempo that we played with tonight for the last league games, hopefully we can get into those top-four spots. But that’s the most important thing: that we replicate this form and these sorts of performances. That’s the one thing that has been missing, that consistency we haven’t had, so that’s what we need to get back and have a big push in these last few games and put this disappointment aside.
Liverpool's bid for a seventh Champions League title was ended as Real Madrid battled to a 0-0 draw at Anfield to secure a 3-1 aggregate win and a place in the semi-finals.
Trailing 3-1 from last week's first leg, Jurgen Klopp's side knew they needed a fast start and that is exactly what they got, however, they spurned glorious chances with Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum the guilty parties in the first half, while Thibaut Courtois had to be alert to keep out James Milner's long-range effort.
Real Madrid were a constant threat on the break and they went close to a crucial away goal in the first half when Karim Benzema's deflected strike struck the foot of the post, but after the break Liverpool continued to press forward.
However, they just could not find a way through the Spanish team's well-organised defence as their European dreams came to an end for another season.
Victory over the two legs means Real Madrid, who are trying to win the competition for a 14th time, face another English test in the last four where they will meet Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Liverpool's attentions now turn to trying to seal a place in next season's Champions League through a top-four finish in the Premier League, starting next Monday when they travel to Leeds, live on Sky Sports on Monday Night Football.Semi-final draw
First legs: April 27/28 | Second legs: May 4/5
Liverpool attempted 13 shots from inside the box against Real Madrid – their most in a UEFA Champions League game at Anfield without scoring since March 2006 v Benfica (20).How Liverpool's Champions League dreams ended...
Liverpool raced out of the traps and a glorious opening fell to Salah in the third minute, but the Egypt forward's shot from just inside the penalty was straight at Courtois, who blocked the strike with his legs.
Courtois was called into action again eight minutes later as Liverpool pinned back the visitors. Salah played the ball into the path of Milner, who let fly from 25 yards, but Courtois leapt to his left to push the ball away from goal.Player ratings
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Phillips (7), Kabak (6), Robertson (6), Fabinho (7), Milner (8), Wijnaldum (7), Mane (6), Firmino (6), Salah (5).
Subs: Jota (6), Thiago (6), Shaqiri (n/a), Oxlade-Chamberlain (n/a).
Real Madrid: Courtois (8), Valverde (7), Militao (7), Nacho (8), Mendy (7), Casemiro (9), Kroos (7), Modric (7), Asensio (6), Vinicius Jr (6), Benzema (7).
Subs: Odriazola (6), Rodrygo (6), Isco (n/a).
Man of the match: Casemiro.
Despite Liverpool's early dominance, Real Madrid almost grabbed a crucial away goal as Benzema's deflected shot beat the dive of Alisson, but luckily for the hosts, the ball rebounded off the foot of the post.
Liverpool continued to play at a high intensity, and they finished the half the stronger of the two sides, creating two more big chances before half-time. First, Salah shot over from inside the penalty area after being picked out by Sadio Mane before Wijnaldum lashed Trent Alexander-Arnold's cut back over the crossbar as Real got in at the interval unscathed.Image: Mohamed Salah, left, fights for the ball with Real Madrid's Toni Kroos
Attacking an empty Kop, Roberto Firmino forced Courtois into a smart block straight after the restart and powered a rising drive just over the crossbar moments later before Klopp turned to his bench.
Liverpool brought on Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara as Klopp changed their shape to 4-2-3-1 with Salah promoted to central striker to allow the three other forwards to slot in behind him, with centre-back Ozan Kabak sacrificed as Fabinho dropped in from midfield.Team news
Real looked in control though as their defence sat back to soak up plenty of pressure from Liverpool, and they almost killed the tie off when Vinicius Junior broke down the left, the hosts requiring goalkeeper Alisson to block his shot and smother Benzema's follow-up.
Liverpool still pressed forward and Thiago's cross-field ball was brilliantly kept alive by Alexander-Arnold only for Firmino's shot on the turn to rebound off Eder Militao when that vital breakthrough seemed likely.
Benzema then should have put the hosts out of their misery when his downward header bounced over, but it mattered little with Liverpool's hopes of Champions League football now resting on overhauling Chelsea and West Ham, and perhaps even Leicester, to get into the top four.What the managers said...
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "You always need the key moments. We didn't lose the tie tonight, we lost in Madrid. It was uncomfortable for Madrid. We were good, aggressive, had chances. If and when is not interesting. We didn't score and then the experience of Real Madrid played the tie down. That is ourselves this year with the finishing.
"We know how often Mo Salah finishes these things with closed eyes. Not here. Tonight it was absolutely okay, but we are out. We love this competition and for other reasons it is very important we are back in it. We can now concentrate on the Premier League and we will. We have to work our socks off against Leeds."
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane: "We were up against it and we knew we had to suffer tonight, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was to go through. I think we handled the game well, we rode the storm and can be proud of our display.
"We knew they'd start fast and they were really good in the opening 15 minutes, but that's normal. In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to dig in and we did that and got through."'We need to put this disappointment behind us'
Liverpool midfielder James Milner to BT Sport:
"I thought the performance was good. The intensity, the desire was good, and we won the ball back well. But you can't not take the chances we had tonight. That was the difference unfortunately.
"We wanted to come out of the blocks and make sure they had no time on the ball and set that tempo and intensity. I think that carried through from early on. It's disappointing because if we had played the first leg with that intensity it would have been a different story.
"It's disappointing because we did everything, we wanted to do other than get the two goals which is obviously the most important thing
"I think the most important thing is that we concentrate on our level of performance and if we perform with that intensity and desire and tempo that we played with tonight for the last league games then hopefully we can get into those top-four spots.
"The most important thing is that we replicate this performance. That's the one thing we've been missing, the consistency we haven't had, so that's what we need to get back and have a big push for the last few games and put this disappointment behind us."Opta stats - Liverpool's struggles against Spanish sides continue Image: Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp, background, yells as Liverpool's Andrew Robertson, left, argues with Real Madrid's Casemiro
Liverpool are winless in their last five games against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League (D1 L4), while they've failed to score in both games against them in this run at Anfield (0-3 in 2014-15 and 0-0 tonight).
Liverpool have only won one of their last 11 games against Spanish opponents in the UEFA Champions League (D3 L7), while failing to win any of their last four across the last two seasons (L2 v Atlético Madrid and D1 L1 v Real Madrid).
This was Liverpool's ninth two-legged knockout tie in the UEFA Champions League under Jürgen Klopp, and only the second time they have failed to win home and away in the tie (also versus Atlético de Madrid in the Last 16 in 2019-20).
Real Madrid have qualified for the semi-finals of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League for the 30th time, at least 10 more than any other team.
Real Madrid have progressed from 11 of their 12 two-legged knockout ties in the UEFA Champions League under Zinedine Zidane, with their only elimination coming against Manchester City in last season's Last 16.What's next? Monday 19th April 7:00pm Kick off 8:00pm
Liverpool travel to Leeds in the Premier League on Monday Night Football at 8pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid are back in La Liga action on Sunday when they face Getafe; kick-off 8pm.
Liverpool make one change for this evening’s Champions League quarter-final, second-leg tie with Real Madrid at Anfield.
Sadio Mane returns to the starting line-up in place of Diogo Jota in the only alteration made to the side deployed from the start against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Subs: Adrian, H. Davies, Thiago, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jota, Tsimikas, Shaqiri, B. Davies, R. Williams, Cain, Clarkson.
Zinedine Zidane is expecting another “highly demanding” outing when his side go head to head with Liverpool on Wednesday evening, but there will be no protecting the lead from the Spaniards.
Real Madrid arrive at Anfield with the advantage firmly in their favour after their 3-1 victory in the first leg of the quarter-final tie, leaving Liverpool with everything to do to turn it around.
The two clubs both head into the clash after confidence-boosting victories, the Reds over Aston Villa and Los Blancos with a triumph over rivals Barcelona.
Their 2-1 win, however, would see Zidane concede “we are physically at the limit,” as injuries and knocks continued to mount up following another taxing clash.
But the Frenchman is not using it as an excuse to not leave it all out there on the Anfield turf, with the Real manager insisting his side are only going “out to win,” not protect their two-goal buffer.
“We are not going to manage our effort levels,” Zidane told reporters.
“Real Madrid always try to win the game. We are ready for another highly demanding match. The emotional and the physical factors go together.
“The most important thing is that the team is prepared to compete. We are going to go out to win.
“The team always comes together in difficulties and that shows you the character of the team.
“We’ve spoken about this with the team, we made a huge effort in the first leg and against Barcelona but we’re used to it.”
The Spanish outfit will continue to be without Raphael Varane, Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal for the second leg meeting, while Lucas Vazquez was added to the long-term absence list after sustaining a knee injury in El Clasico.
But despite further setbacks, Zidane has encouraged his side to continue the fight, starting at Anfield where both teams are vying for a spot in the semi-final.
“A lot has happened to us and we miss many players,” Zidane added. “I would have liked to have all of them, but we will prepare a good game with those we have.
“We know that [this season] is complicated and that it is a very strange season. What we have to do is recover well when we can. We all have [congested] calendars.
“We are going to fight; we are alive in both competitions and we will try until the end.”
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Visit our Match Centre now to follow live and interactive coverage of Liverpool's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid.