Real Madrid held off a siege from Liverpool to knock the English club out of the Champions League and advance to the semi-finals.
Not shaken up by an alleged bus attack akin to Manchester City at this point of the competition in 2017-2018, the 13-time winners kept a solid clean sheet even with a threadbare back line.
Young midfielder Fede Valverde was thought to be a weak link and was targeted by Sadio Mane early in the second installment of this quarter final tie, while Zinedine Zidane was also unable to call on the expertise of veterans Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.
⚪️ Real Madrid have now won 16 of their 17 Champions League knockout round ties when winning the first leg by two goals or more…🤔 How good is this @realmadrid side? #UCL
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 14, 2021
With Nacho and Eder Militao, however, plus Marcelo-replacement left back Ferland Mendy, the Spaniards were in safe hands.
Finally starting to realize his potential since a move from Porto via Sao Paulo, as a potential heir to the likes of Thiago Silva in the national team fold, Brazilian Militao was particularly effective in coming up with a series of important blocks.
As suggested, the Reds had plenty of chances to overturn the scoreline but were wasteful with only five of a total 15 attempts on target.
Mohamed Salah was particularly excruciating to watch, and set the tone for the evening when missing a sitter within two minutes.
Approaching half time, the Egyptian and Gini Winaljdum both failed to trouble Thibaut Courtois in the box, and there were further opportunities squandered when the hosts came back out after the interval.
Klopp’s decision to leave out reigning UCL champion Thiago in another big game was again questioned, and the playmaker’s introduction saw greater creativity moving forward.
But as service to Salah was once more squandered by the possible-Madrid bound forward, a fading club hero was blasted by fans online.
“Sell him ASAP,” demanded one.
“Has Salah signed for Real already?,” asked another.
“His audition for Madrid isn’t going well” it was also pointed out, while elsewhere someone commented: “He has to score these.”
“Right lads, are ye ready to block my shot? Ok, here it comes.” – M Salah, 14 April 2021
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 14, 2021
Topping off what was dubbed a “monstrous defensive performance”, Madrid held on to reach their eighth out of 10 possible semifinals on the continent, and they are now just 180 minutes away from a fourth out of five possible finals on supposed fraud Zidane’s watch.
As for Liverpool, they were left to reflect on what could have been, as they succumbed to a second successive elimination by a team from the Spanish capital.
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This article originally appeared on RT Sport News