An injury-hit Real Madrid side look to make good use of home advantage and get a compelling result in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-finals against Liverpool. They did just that with an impressive 3-1 win and now have to protect that at Anfield. Los Blancos started the game in dominant fashion and got a deserved lead in the 27th minute when Vinicius Jr buried his chance with impressive confidence.
They were then gifted a second goal after Trent Alexander-Arnold botched a header straight to Marco Asensio inside the box, and the Spaniard made no mistake putting it away to make it 2-0! However, they dropped their intensity in the second half and were made to pay when Mo Salah pulled one back in the 51st minute by blasting a shot into the net from close range.
But Madrid soon restored their two-goal lead as Vinicius Jr scored again in the 65th-minute after smartly slotting a shot past the diving Alisson to make it 3-1! They were able to hold onto that and now go into the game at Anfield with a valuable two-goal with a spot in the semi-finals now on the horizon.
Real Madrid player ratings vs Liverpool
Zinedine Zidane (8.0) –
In a game when many expected Zidane to go with a defensive approach, he did exactly the opposite. He ensured that his side surprised Liverpool with their attacking style, closing down players quickly and hitting them on the counter-attack. Zidane also realized LFC’s struggles because of their high defensive line and ensured his side capitalized on that, with the first two goals being created because of that.
Did well to keep his side motivated to keep going for goals in the second half so that they go to Anfield with a relatively healthy lead. Definitely outwitted Klopp on the day.
Thibaut Courtois (6.5) –
Courtois had nothing to do before Salah’s goal, which he almost saved by the power of his shot saw it hit his arms before going into the net. Apart from that, all he had to do was collect a few crosses and pass the ball around because of how well his defence did.
Lucas Vazquez (6.5) –
Madrid’s own make-shift right-back looks pumped for this, making persistent forward runs down the right. Makes a clutch clearance to deny Liverpool a goal in the 16th. But was caught ball-napping and completed played Salah onside for his goal. Vazquez worked hard to neutralize Robertson’s threat and did well going forward, putting in some lively crosses as well.
Nacho Fernandez (7.0) –
The senior-most centre-back must channel his inner Ramos to keep Liverpool’s attack at bay. Nacho was really solid at the back, reading Liverpool’s attacking chances to neutralize them and making some clutch challenges to keep them quiet. Kept things simple yet kept LFC frustrated with his confident defending.
Eder Militao (7.0) –
The aggressive Brazilian defender did well to keep the menacing Jota quiet in the first half with his strong defending. Overcommitted for Salah’s strike, with Jota’s shot deflecting off him to the Egyptian. But apart from that, Militao also came up big – winning all of the aerial duels, making great clerances and frustrating both Jota & Mane with his proactive defending.
Ferland Mendy (7.5) –
Mendy made a terrific forward run in the 12th, dribbling past Alexander-Arnold to create Vinicius’ chance. Makes a huge last-ditch clearance to deny Mane a clear goal in the 63rd. Dealt with Salah’s threat really well, not giving him much space to attack through the right and popping into all the key areas to stop LFC’s chances.
Casemiro (8.0) –
With no Ramos or Varane, Casemiro has a big responsibility to protect his defenders today. He took it with aplomb, protecting his defenders brilliantly and helping them survive the Liverpool onslaught. Casemiro made 4 tackles, 2 interceptions, won 11 defensive duels and recovered the ball 9 times in an incredible effort which helped Madrid nullify Liverpool’s attacking threat and not let them get many sniffs at the goal.
Toni Kroos (8.0) –
Real Madrid’s Rolls Royce proves why he’s regarded among the best midfielders with an incredible assist for Vinicius’ strike, launching a pitch-perfect long-ball that split open Liverpool’s backline and easily allowed the Brazilian to score. Forced Alexander-Arnold’s botched backpass before Asensio’s goal with his menacing long ball.
Nearly got a scoring chance for himself in the 61st but blasted a shot over the bar. Kroos moved the ball around really well, helping Madrid transition from defence into attack smoothly, creating lots of big chances and worked hard defensively to win the midfield battle.
Luke Modric (7.5) –
Modric felt hard-done by the referee early on after being seemingly fouled outside the area by Wijnaldum – only not to get anything for it. Cleverly tip-toed past Fabinho and found Vinicius inside the box for his second. Despite his age, the Croatian was still a hard-working engine in his side’s midfield and showed incredible energy to frustrate the LFC midfielders & get his teammates forward with his crisp passing.
Marco Asensio (7.5) –
Asensio seems full of venom today, making some clever runs to trouble the visitors. Fluffed a difficult right-footed shot wide in the 33rd. Pounced on Alexander-Arnold’s mistake before chipping over Alisson and finishing coolly for his strike. Then again got a scoring chance in the 42nd but his shot from an awkward angle went wide.
His movement and ability to pop into key areas in the final third made him a nightmare for the LFC defenders but Asensio could’ve gotten more if his decision-making was a bit better. Put in a commendable effort before being subbed.
Vinicius Jr (9.0) –
Vinicius is making great use of his trickery to torment Alexander-Arnold and almost got a goal in the 13th when his glancing header brazed wide. But he did not miss later on, brilliantly taking down Kroos’ ball before smartly finishing past the onrushing Alisson.
Gained a lot of confidence from that and again popped inside the box in the 32nd, with his shot this time being deflected wide. Did not make a mistake when given the chance to shoot from inside the box, cleverly putting his shot inside Philips legs and past Alisson for his second.
Tormented & riled up Alexander-Arnold with his tricky movement, acted as Madrid’s knight in the attack and tapped into his clinical best in what might be the best performance of his career so far.
Karim Benzema (7.0) –
Madrid’s own superman starts the game sharpy, testing Alisson with a low shot in the 2nd. Got another shot in the 71st but it was smartly saved by the keeper. Despite not getting a goal or assist, Benzema’s impressive link-up play and ability to drag defenders out out position opened up all the good things for Madrid. Played a sacrificial role but an effective one nonetheless.
Fede Valverde (6.5) –
Valverde helped add a bit more energy and defensive solidity to Madrid to help them keep hold off the two-goal lead heading into the next game.
Rodrygo (N/R) –
Rodrygo came on for his fellow Brazilian Vinicius but couldn’t really add a similar spark in the attack.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Vinicius put in his best performance of the season (and possibly his entire career) today. He was unplayable and scored two very good goals. He’s the MOTM for today.