Klopp feels Real Madrid tie 'is over' after Liverpool suffer worst European home defeat

Reds capitulate 5-2 at Anfield, with manager admitting his side will have to 'take risks' in Champions League last-16 return leg next month

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Jurgen Klopp says he believes, for now at least, that Liverpool's Champions League dream is over following Tuesday's 5-2 capitulation to Real Madrid that gave the title-holders a significant advantage ahead of the last-16 return leg in Spain next month.

Liverpool couldn't have wished for a better start, as Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah put the home side 2-0 up inside 14 minutes.

It ended with the Reds' worst ever European home defeat as a brace apiece for Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema sandwiched an Eder Militao header at the start of the second half.

Put to Klopp that Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said he could not say the tie was over, he said: “I think Carlo thinks the tie is over – and I think it as well in the moment.

“But in three weeks – that is how it is in these moments – the closer you get to the game, the bigger our chances become and the less likely that the tie is over.

“But tonight with a 5-2 when you see the game, they are pretty good in counter-attacking … we have to score there three goals and take some risks. That could be a bit tricky.

“But it’s really not in my mind so we go there, I can say that now already, and try and win the game.

“If that’s possible or not right now I don’t know but that’s what we will try and from there we will see.”

Liverpool v Real Madrid ratings

Liverpool head to Spain for the second leg on March 15 reeling from a humiliating loss, having become the first team in Champions League history to take a 2-0 lead and lose by a three-goal margin.

It is a result that could dent confidence in an already challenging campaign, but Klopp wants his players to focus on the positives.

“I can see that people think that, understandable, but that is actually not allowed,” the Liverpool boss said.

“I told the boys directly after the game so this is a different thing that happened today. One result that was opposite of what we wanted.

“We made mistakes around the goal, yes, as well and I said a couple of times a defeat is a defeat if you don’t learn from it.

“If you don’t learn tonight that the start of the game was outstanding and the way we played was us in a nutshell, us like we want to be, and that’s what we have to keep doing. If we now allow this one game to be influential, we are really silly.

“We have a few days where we’ll make sure that we take the right things out of this game.”

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his second goal during the UEFA Champions League, Round of 16, 1st leg match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid in Liverpool, Britain, 21 February 2023.   EPA / Peter Powell

Tuesday's turnaround echoed the resolve and spirit Madrid showed in last year's knockout rounds on their way to lifting a record-extending 14th European Cup, where they beat Liverpool 1-0 in the final in Paris.

Before that they had to overturn a 4-3 deficit to Manchester City in the first leg of their semi-final before prevailing 3-1 at the Bernabeu to win the tie 6-5 on aggregate.

“Obviously we didn’t expect to start like we did but at 2-0 down I thought about the City away leg last year in the hope that we could do the same – but it turned out even better,” said Madrid boss Ancelotti.

“They were doing us damage down our left but when we were better in our attacks, we moved [Federico] Valverde a little bit towards that danger and we then defended better.”

Vinicius, 22, became the youngest player to score two goals against Liverpool at Anfield in one of Europe's leading competitions since Johan Cruyff for Ajax in 1966 when the Dutch great was 19.

The Brazil international is establishing himself as Madrid’s star player and, in the face of a typically daunting Anfield atmosphere, he rose to the occasion.

“Vinicius right now in my opinion is the most decisive player in world football, the man who can make the biggest difference, and if he can keep this consistency let’s hope he can continue in this vein,” Ancelotti said.

Updated: February 22, 2023, 6:20 AM