Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema each scored twice as Real Madrid rallied from two goals down to win 5-2 against Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 contest at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s team had initially risen to the pressure of defeating the European champions, with Darwin Nunez opening the score with a superb backheel flick from Mo Salah’s low cross.
In 14 minutes, the Egyptian doubled the home side’s lead after capitalizing on a mistake by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Salah’s 42nd goal for Liverpool in the tournament gave him the club’s all-time European scoring record.
Real had looked set to be blown away at this juncture, but soon recovered and reduced the arrears on 21 minutes when a piece of individual genius resulted in Vinicius thundering a wonderful effort into the far corner from the left side of the box.
The 22-year-old Brazilian forward then silenced Anfield 15 minutes later when he inadvertently deflected Alisson’s dreadful attempt at a pass to the right flank into an empty net.
It had been a breathless, even spectacle up to the interval but the visitors moved up a gear in the second period and ripped through the Merseysiders at will.
First, Eder Militao headed home Luka Modric’s left-wing free-kick on 47 minutes before Benzema pretty much put the tie out of sight.
The Frenchman saw his first goal deflect in off Joe Gomez and then helped himself to a double 23 minutes from time when he side-stepped Alisson to gleefully fire into an empty net following another ruthless counter attack.
The result leaves Liverpool with an absolute mountain to climb ahead of the second leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, March 15.
Klopp’s men will now turn their attention back to their push for a top-four spot when they visit Crystal Palace on Saturday evening. Real host Atletico in the Madrid derby.