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Madrid masterclass at Anfield

MATCH REPORT. 21/02/2023. Alberto Navarro

A remarkable comeback by the European champions, who overturned a 2-0 deficit courtesy of braces from Vini Jr. and Benzema and a goal from Militão.

Real Madrid paid a magnificent tribute to honorary president Amancio Amaro with a memorable display at Anfield. Everything was against the madridistas after goals from Darwin Núñez and Salah in the first quarter of an hour, but the Whites once again showed that they can overcome all adversity and went in at half-time with the game all square after Vini Jr's brace. The second half was nothing short of spectacular and Ancelotti's men completed the comeback with a header from Militao and another two goals from Benzema.

Liverpool made a high tempo start to the contest. Their approach reaped rewards when Darwin Núñez's back-heeled goal from Salah's assist in the 4th minute paid dividends opened the scoring. Ten minutes later, the Egyptian made it 2-0 when he pounced on a poor control by Courtois. The tie seemed like an uphill struggle after just a quarter of an hour, but Madrid held their nerve and reduced the home side's lead with a terrific finish from Vini Jr. in the 21st minute.

Vini Jr. rifles in equaliser
The Brazilian collected the ball on the edge of the box and rifled the ball through the narrowest of gaps between three Liverpool defenders and past Alisson into the far corner. The
Premier League side responded four minutes later through Darwin Núñez after a series of rebounds. Militão cleared the ball off the goal-line and Alaba got injured in the process – the Austrian was subsequently replaced by Nacho. In the space of half an hour the clash had produced three goals in what was an entertaining end-to-end affair. Vini Jr. almost drew the Whites level with a replica of his first goal but Alisson pulled off a fine save to deny the forward on 31’.

Video.2-5: Madrid masterclass at Anfield

The two Brazilians took centre stage five minutes later. Vini Jr., pressing the home goalkeeper's clearance and the ball struck his leg and flew into the Liverpool goal. The teams went in at half-time at 2-2, although our side could have added a third in stoppage time. A textbook, one-touch counter-attack. Courtois played the ball to Valverde, who laid it off to Vini Jr and his left-footed cross was cleared by Robertson as Rodrygo was waiting to head the ball into the net.
A second half to remember
The second half couldn't have got off to a better start. In the 48th minute, Madrid turned the game on its head from a set-piece. A free-kick from Modrić was flicked on and Militão powered home a header. The European champions' reaction was dramatic, and they increased their lead seven minutes later. Rodrygo linked up with Benzema, and the Frenchman's shot flew in after hitting Gomez. Ever the maverick, Ancelotti's men carried on pushing forward and got their fifth when Modrić broke on the counter-attack, Vini Jr. continued and Benzema crowned it with a cut-back and left-footed finish to make it 2-5. Madrid were able to hold on to their lead for the second leg, which will be played at the Bernabeu on 15 March.




The referee

István Kovács (Romania), assisted by Vasile Florin Marinescu and Ovidiu Artene. Horatiu Fesnic was the fourth official and Massimiliano Irrati the video assistant referee.