Eyebrows were raised about Brendan Rodgers’ decision to rest regulars for this clash, but the side he selected battled hard and made it tough for Real to break through in a 1-0 victory in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
The only goal of the game arrived in the 27th minute as Karim Benzema tapped home Marcelo’s cross, as Liverpool defended resolutely but lost at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real are top of Group B on 12 points from four games and have qualified for the last 16, while Liverpool are second on three points and have it all to do to make the knockout stages of the UCL.
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Early on the home side came flying out of the traps as Rodriguez and Ronaldo forced fine stops from Simon Mignolet. Liverpool’s makeshift team held on until just before the half hour mark but then Real took the lead as Marcelo surged down the left flank and whipped in a delightful ball to the back post which Benzema prodded home. 1-0 to Real.
Before half time Ronaldo had a long-range free kick which Mignolet beat away, then Benzema lifted a lob onto the roof of the net as the hosts went in with a slender lead at the interval despite all of their pressure.
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In the second half Liverpool contained Real to few scoring chances early on and the became comfortable and calm on the ball. In the 57th minute Adam Lallana turned beautifully on the edge of the box and flashed an effort just wide as Liverpool grew into the game.
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Gareth Bale arrived from the bench just after the hour mark and smashed the cross bar after another great run from Marcelo down the left. Liverpool brought on Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling with 20 minutes to go as Brendan Rodgers’ men tried to nick a late point.
However Real held on to the win to all but seal their spot in the last 16 while Liverpool have plenty of work to do after yet another defeat.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; James ( Bale, 62′), Kroos, Modric, Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema (Hernandez, 87′)
Goal: Benzema (27′)
Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Toure, Skrtel, Moreno; Lucas (Gerrard, 69′), Can (Coutinho, 75′), Allen; Lallana, Borini, Markovic (Sterling, 69′)