Ronaldo, Benzema silence Anfield in Madrid stroll
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Liverpool FC 0-3 Real Madrid CF
First-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema made it a comfortable night at Anfield for the Group B pacesetters.
Article top media content
• Cristiano Ronaldo's 23rd-minute opener douses Anfield fire
• Karim Benzema puts Madrid in unassailable lead with two more first-half goals
• Madrid six points clear at Group B summit
• Coutinho hits post for Liverpool who have defensive frailties exposed
• Next games: Real Madrid v Liverpool (4 November)
Real Madrid CF continued the impressive defence of their UEFA Champions League title with a comprehensive victory over Liverpool FC at Anfield.
Liverpool had never lost a European home tie by more than two goals but Carlo Ancelotti's men tore up that statistic in fine style. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring and Karim Benzema added two more before the break to leave Madrid six points clear at the top of Group B, with Liverpool sitting third with three points from their three games.
Madrid's success ensures they will face FC Barcelona on Saturday high on confidence and it was Ronaldo who provided the platform with the goal of the night, his 20th already this season. He was the player – as a former Manchester United FC man – whose name was jeered the loudest before kick-off and whose early touches were met with boos yet he silenced the home fans after 23 minutes.
He swapped passes first with Pepe and then with Benzema before feeding James Rodríguez who lobbed a brilliant ball over the home defence which Ronaldo reached ahead of Martin Škrtel and dispatched on the half-volley. It was Ronaldo's 70th goal in the competition – one shy of Raúl González's record – and it took the wind out of Liverpool's sails.
Brendan Rodgers' team – really missing Daniel Sturridge – had started brightly with Raheem Sterling in particular getting into some dangerous forward positions. All they had to show, though, was a long-range Steven Gerrard effort that Iker Casillas got down to parry.
By half-time they were a beaten side and they will not enjoy reviewing their defending for the second and third goals. When Simon Mignolet punched the ball half-clear on the half-hour, Madrid were allowed to recycle the danger, Toni Kroos crossing to the far post where Benzema looped a header over the goalkeeper.
The Reds' defensive frailties were exposed again with the third when a Kroos corner reached the far post where Pepe scrambled the ball beyond Mignolet and Benzema applied the finishing touch.
Liverpool might have found a flicker of hope before the interval but Coutinho clipped the post. Ancelotti's AC Milan side famously surrendered a 3-0 lead against the Reds in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final but Liverpool, despite the half-time withdrawal of the disappointing Mario Balotelli for Adam Lallana, never hinted at a comeback.
That Madrid did not add further goals in the second period was down to Mignolet, who thwarted Ronaldo after he broke clear. The Merengues had some excellent performers, including Isco – deputising impressively for the injured Gareth Bale – and Kroos who earned sporting applause from the Anfield crowd when substituted. As for Liverpool, they have plenty to ponder ahead of next month's trip to Madrid.