Liverpool are tidying up their lines as the Champions League dream ends in a familiar way
In the end it was too far of a bridge, even for Liverpool.
For Jurgen Klopp’s men, Anfield would not be a miracle. In the second season in a row they will leave the Champions League at the hands of a team from Madrid, who did not get the deficit in the first round of the home game.
For Atletico 2020, read Real 2021.
Liverpool threw the rumor, but they couldn’t throw the house. He finished 0-0 on the night when the Reds were eliminated thanks to an expensive 3-1 defeat in the Spanish capital eight days ago.
That was where the damage was done. How Klopp will regret the way his team started their game; passive, nervous, disorganized. How he will do it, after returning to the equalizer through Mohamed Salah’s outside goal, was given control so quickly.
The 2-1 loss was handled, but it was a 3-1 killer, especially with the 12th man to return to Anfield.
As it turned out, Real were able to endure the inevitable second round and Liverpool were unable to turn their dominance into a goal.
They went right, at least. Their performance was above what we saw in Madrid – even if it had to be, with complete fairness. Klopp could not blame his players for their effort, their belief or their heart.
Their finish, though? That’s another matter.
The chances came, especially in the first half, but none were taken. The goals were earlier in the end at Anfield, and here they could not find one, let alone two.
Their finish was poor, as Salah and Gini Wijnaldum were to blame before the break. Wijnaldum, in particular, will have nightmares about him.
Salah saved Thibaut Courtois ’save in the opening three minutes when he could have done better, and the former Chelsea goalkeeper was at his best shortly after, saving the entire stretch from James Milner, the 25-yard corner appeared to be headed for the top corner.
Liverpool’s desire was there, their sharp pressure and attack clear. Milner, surprisingly selected ahead of Thiago Alcantara in midfield, set the tone in the opening seconds, firing Karim Benzema firmly but fairly tearfully. The message has been sent.
Real sometimes struggled in the opening 45 minutes, disturbed by Liverpool’s pace. Excellent Toni Kroos also turned off his radar, although Benzema saw a cross shot against the post after a strange advance.
When the whistle blew at the break, the tie was there, even though you suspected that Klopp’s team would regret their mistakes, that they had a chance, and that they turned it on.
It was proved so. Liverpool continued to probe and follow the gap, but nothing came out.
Courtois saved well Roberto Firmino, Salah had to spend too much time on the penalty area. Diogo Jota, sent in as a substitute with Thiago, saw the shot fired into the side nets, and the excellent Eder Militao, Sergio Ramos ’replacement, blocked Firmino.
Liverpool continued to move forward, but Jj Bjorn was far ahead of the Kuipers referee’s last whistle blast.
He was there before he left Madrid.