More Madrid misery for Liverpool! Winners & Losers as Real remind Reds how far they've fallen

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Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2022-23 HIC 16:9
Real Madrid cruised into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, beating Liverpool 1-0 at the Bernabeu to progress 6-2 on aggregate

No miracle. No comeback. In the end, not even a goal for the travelling Liverpool supporters to get excited about.

The Reds had descended on the Spanish capital dreaming of the most unlikely of escape acts, but all they got was another harsh lesson from Real Madrid, their Champions League bete noir.

For the fourth time in six seasons, Liverpool’s European dreams were dashed by the kings of this competition, with Karim Benzema’s late strike securing a 6-2 aggregate win and sending Carlo Ancelotti’s men into the quarter-finals.

A sobering reality check for Reds fans, many of whom made an early exit as the game, and indeed the tie, petered out in the dying stages.

Their side had a few opportunities, mostly in the first half, but in truth never looked likely to make any inroads into that 5-2 first-leg deficit.

The damage, most certainly, was done at Anfield, when a two-goal lead became a three-goal problem in little more than 45 minutes, but for Jurgen Klopp and his players, this was a galling reminder of just how far they have fallen since losing to Real narrowly in last season’s final.

GOAL takes a look at the winners and losers from the Bernabeu...

  1. WINNER: Vinicius Junior

    What does he have against Liverpool? Is it personal at this point? Certainly, Vinicius Junior enjoys playing against Trent Alexander-Arnold.

    The winger was electric from the outset, running rings around Liverpool’s right-back. He could have perhaps grabbed a goal in the first half after turning Ibrahima Konate inside out, but his shot was tame.

    He inevitably made an impact, though, setting up Benzema for Madrid’s only goal on the night. It wasn’t the prettiest assist, more a simple stab to a wide-open player.

    Still, it was another goal involvement against his favourite European opponent.

  2. WINNER: Alisson

    WINNER: Alisson

    He may have blundered in the first leg, gifting a crucial goal to Vinicius Junior, but nobody could fault Liverpool’s goalkeeper here.

    What a performance the Brazilian turned in. His first-half save from Vinicius, an instinctive block with his forearm from point blank range, was superb.

    His next, from Eduardo Camavinga, was even better: a touch onto the crossbar at full stretch.

    There was another after the break, one-on-one against Fede Valverde, and only some slapstick defending and a lucky ricochet denied him a deserved clean sheet.

  3. LOSER: Trent Alexander-Arnold

    LOSER: Trent Alexander-Arnold

    If ever a corner summed up a night. A tie, even.

    With less than 10 minutes remaining, and the game descending into nothing, Liverpool’s centre-backs and forwards prepared to receive an Alexander-Arnold delivery from the right.

    It didn’t arrive, the ball instead sent miles beyond the far post, allowing Madrid to break. Alexander-Arnold’s shoulders slumped as he launched into yet another recovery run back towards his own goal.

    He’s made a few of those over the course of this tie. He won’t want to see Vinicius Junior again in a hurry, that’s for sure.

    The Brazilian was too slick and too skilful for the Englishman, who did make one good challenge to deny Benzema a goal, but otherwise looked like a broken man, with even his famous passing radar going awry.

  4. WINNER: Luka Modric

    WINNER: Luka Modric

    It has been clear for quite some time now that Modric is among the best midfielders to ever do it. And Wednesday night’s showing was another impressive cut for his extensive highlight reel.

    The Croatian neither scored nor assisted, but took the sting out of Liverpool’s game early.

    The visitors were predictably adventurous from the first whistle, but Modric’s composed passing and ability to play between the lines ensured Madrid had time to breathe in the early stages.

    He contributed going forward, too, sending a shot just over the crossbar in the first half and setting up Valverde for a narrow miss in the second.

    Unsurprisingly, when Modric left the field, he did so to a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabeu. The man's a living legend.

  5. WINNER: Carlo Ancelotti

    WINNER: Carlo Ancelotti

    Madrid are used to fighting on all fronts. With this squad, this coach, and, in all honesty, their heritage, they should be pushing for the league, cup, and continental success.

    But this hasn’t been the easiest season for Ancelotti. Madrid are facing a deficit in the Copa del Rey, and need to beat a surging Barcelona on Sunday to stand any chance of staying in the Liga title race.

    Ancelotti needed this one, then. And fortunately for the Blancos boss, he drew a top performance out of his side.

    This was vintage Madrid, every year of their European experience oozing through their play. Los Blancos never really looked concerned, and they partially have their manager to thank.

    Some coaches win big games with tactical nous and constant energy. Ancelotti wins them by giving the impression that everything will eventually work out.

    On Wednesday, it did. Again.

  6. LOSER: Liverpool Supporters

    LOSER: Liverpool Supporters

    The away end was half-empty well before the final blast of referee Felix Zwayer’s whistle, and could you blame them?

    They’d arrived with hope, those 1800 lucky enough to get tickets in a scandalously-reduced allocation, but after an okay first 45 minutes, the belief on the pitch and in the stands faded quickly.

    Liverpool had their chance in this tie, 2-0 up and purring inside 20 minutes in the first leg, but what happened thereafter emphasised the drop-off in Klopp’s side this season.

    Real scored five in no time at Anfield, and though they didn’t put them to the sword here, the feeling for the most part was of a good team holding an average one at arm’s length.

    That will hurt the hardcore amongst the Reds support. The worry now is that this might be their last Champions League away trip for some time.