Karim Benzema on target as Real Madrid ease past Liverpool in Champions League

Holders into quarter finals after 1-0 victory at Bernabeu for 6-2 aggregate win

Real Madrid players celebrate after taking the lead in the 1-0 Champions League round of 16 win against Liverpool on March 15, 2023. EPA
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Liverpool’s impossible job against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu proved exactly that as they lost 1-0 and were lamely knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday.

All the damage had been done in the first leg but even with a 5-2 deficit there remained the romantic notion among the die-hards and dreamers that Jurgen Klopp’s side could fashion a performance to rival that of Istanbul 2005 or Anfield 2019 against Barcelona.

Klopp gave his side a one per cent chance ahead of the game but had it not been for the brilliance of goalkeeper Alisson Becker all hope would have been extinguished in the opening quarter, before Karim Benzema settled the round of 16 second leg.

“Being 5-2 down is not a great result if you want to got through,” Klopp told BT Sport. “You ned to have a special performance and we couldn't do that tonight.

“Real Madrid had the best chances, Alisson made two fantastic saves. The right team went through, we have to admit that. Knockout stages are like this. It's not what we wanted but it's what we got.

“You need moments in a game like this, if we scored in the first half it could have given us the spark but this is hypothetical. They were the better team in three halves of this tie and that's how you go through.

“If we draw at home and play like we did tonight, we probably go out as well. We cannot come here and hope that we get something. We prepared for a special performance tonight but it didn't happen.

“Nobody thinks 'how could Liverpool go out' and that's probably the best sign that the right team went through and that's how it is in the knockout stage.”

This was the 14-time winners’ 300th Champions League match and all that experience showed with a balanced and controlled display of sharp attacking and tidy defending capped by a goal from their long-time nemesis Benzema.

However, it may be Liverpool’s last in the competition for a while unless they can iron out wild inconsistencies in their domestic form.

In truth few players, their goalkeeper excepted, reached the level required to properly trouble the defending champions, never mind threaten an unlikely comeback.

Real 1-0 Liverpool - in pictures

Liverpool needed their big name and most experienced players, many of them Champions League winners, to drive the team forwards while cajoling something out of the raw talent of Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo.

But players like Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold never got to grips with the game and that asked too much of the likes of Nunez, substituted in the 57th minute, and Gakpo.

And it was a misjudgement by one of their most experienced defenders, Virgil van Dijk, allowing Vinicius Junior a second chance to pass to Benzema to slot into an open goal and eventually kill off their remote hopes in the 78th minute.

Updated: March 15, 2023, 11:00 PM