LIVERPOOL – Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield on Wednesday, as the reigning European champions dominated the Group B clash.
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Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a sumptuous goal, then a double from Karim Benzema made it 3-0 to the visitors before half time. That was how things remained, as a poor defensive display from Liverpool was taken advantage of by Real.
Liverpool are now third in Group B with three points, while Real remain top with nine.
Early on the home crowd got right behind Liverpool as Balotelli and Sterling caused Real Madrid’s defense plenty of problems. Steven Gerrard sent in a shot from 30-yards out which Iker Casillas parried away to safety as Ronaldo was marshaled closely in the opening stages. But not close enough.
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Despite a positive start for the home side, they were 1-0 down with 23 minutes on the clock as Real showed exactly why they are the reigning champions of Europe. Ronaldo picked the ball up 35-yards out, played the ball into James who dinked the ball perfectly into the Portuguese forward’s path as he hooked the ball home to silence Anfield. 1-0 to Real as Ronaldo scored his first-ever goal at Anfield. Soon after Ronaldo went close with a swerving shot which has Simon Mignolet scrambling to his far post.
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On the half hour mark it was 2-0 to Real as Kroos was given plenty of time on the left and picked out Benzema at the back post who headed home to send the away fans into raptures. Things got worse for Liverpool before half time as James’ corner from the left saw Pepe get to the loose ball in front of Mignolet and Benzema tapped home his second of the match to make it 3-0. Joe Allen came close to pulling a goal back for Liverpool after good work from Balotelli, then Philippe Coutinho hammered a long-range shot against the post. But a poor first half saw Liverpool trailing 3-0 at the interval.
At half time Balotelli was replaced by Adam Lallana and the former Southampton player looked lively and fluid going forward. Lallana linked up well with Sterling on several occasions cutting in from the left and Liverpool had plenty of possession.
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With the home side throwing men forward in search of a goal, Real looked increasingly dangerous on the break. Ronaldo saw a thunderous effort saved by Mignolet and then the Belgian ‘keeper denied the Portuguese superstar again after he went through one-on-one. For one more night, Raul’s record of 71 goals in the UEFA Champions League remained intact. Liverpool came close through Sterling late on, but Real left Anfield with all three points and a deserved victory.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson (Can, 67′); Sterling, Balotelli (Lallana, 46′), Coutinho (Markovic, 67′)
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo (Nacho, 85′), Kroos (Illarramendi 82′), Modric, Rodriguez, Isco, Ronaldo (Khedira, 75′), Benzema
Goals: Ronaldo (23′), Benzema (30′, 41′)