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Liverpool learn finishing lesson in Madrid

Liverpool FC manager Neil Critchley told UEFA.com that his side were "punished" for not taking their chances against Real Madrid CF, who won the Group B contest 4-1.

Critchley rues missed chances
Critchley rues missed chances

Real Madrid CF avenged their last-gasp UEFA Youth League defeat by Liverpool FC last time out with a 4-1 victory on Tuesday at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, taking a big step towards the knockout stage in the process.

On a cold afternoon, with conditions more akin to northern England than the Spanish capital, there was an understandable air of tension, given both sides knew a win would put them in a strong position to qualify from Group B.

After the hosts has opened the scoring early on with a wonderful free-kick from Cristian Cedrés, the visitors sprung to life, dominating possession and equalising five minutes before half-time through Cameron Brannagan. The Reds had a number of chances in the opening quarter of the second half, but some staunch defending by Madrid, combined with some clinical finishing at the other end, meant the Merengues took the spoils, something Liverpool manager Neil Critchley felt was the difference between the teams.

Highlights: Real Madrid 4-1 Liverpool
Highlights: Real Madrid 4-1 Liverpool

"Obviously we're disappointed with the result," he told UEFA.com. "For long periods of the game we were probably the better side and at 1-1 we had some big chances. Big moments decide big matches and we've not taken ours, and unfortunately we were dealt a severe lesson towards the end. When you play against top-level opponents they can punish you and today we were punished.

"The more we can put players in these kind of situations from a young age, in games where the result really means something, we will know how it feels to be on the back of a defeat and win an important game, because at the top level it's decided on what happens in both penalty boxes. Today, Real Madrid were ruthless in front of goal and we weren't, and that decided the game."

Goals in the last 17 minutes from Jack Harper, Borja Mayoral and José Carlos Lazo won the game for the hosts, and their coach Luis Miguel Ramis was understandably delighted with the result. "It was very important to start the second half of the group stage well, at home against a direct rival," Ramis explained.

"The win gives us three points, which means we now have nine and more chances [of progressing to the round of 16], so we're obviously very happy with the victory and the work of the players.

Real Madrid coach Luis Miguel Ramis
Real Madrid coach Luis Miguel Ramis©UEFA.com

"The game ebbed and flowed. They're a side that are very physical, make things difficult on the pitch, and are capable of maintaining a high intensity over the course of the 90 minutes. We started well, but then finished the first half losing a little bit of our intensity and they got back into the game.

"At the start of the second period, they had their chances to go ahead, but we held on well. The changes we made helped the side and we found some space in behind, which then helped us score the three goals towards the end which gave us the win."