Reds outclassed by Real & Ronaldo

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Cristiano Ronaldo was applauded off the pitch after orchestrating Real Madrid's 3-0 win against Liverpool at Anfield. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Cristiano Ronaldo was applauded off the pitch after orchestrating Real Madrid’s 3-0 win against Liverpool at Anfield. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Liverpool were completely outplayed as European kings Real Madrid inflicted a crushing 3-0 Champions League defeat, after a moment of brilliance by Cristiano Ronaldo and two goals from Karim Benzema wrapped the result up before half-time at Anfield.

The Reds could do nothing to reproduce their emphatic 4-0 victory against Real in the same competition five years ago, as they lost their unbeaten record against the reigning European champions and left their qualification hopes hanging in the balance.

As promised, the Kop was in full, expectant cry as Liverpool made a strong, high-tempo start but their recent poor form was soon replicated and defensive problems were ruthlessly exploited by the visitors.

Philippe Coutinho went closest for the home team when he hit the post but Mario Balotelli disappointed the fans again, putting in another poor performance then swapping his shirt at the end of a stunning first half, before the Italian striker was substituted at the break.

By then, it was all over as a contest, with Ronaldo opening the scoring on 23 minutes. After some clinical interplay between the Portuguese superstar and James Rodriguez, Ronaldo struck a superb first-time shot on the half-volley into the bottom corner past a helpless Simon Mignolet.

Previous European meetings: 1981 (Final): Liverpool 1-0 Real Madrid 2009 (round of 16): Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid

Previous European meetings:
1981 (Final): Liverpool 1-0 Real Madrid
2009 (Round of 16): Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool
2009 (Round of 16): Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid

It was Ronaldo’s first goal at Anfield and his 70th in the Champions League. The former Manchester United hero was later applauded off the pitch by Liverpool fans who had appreciated his vintage display.

Real doubled their lead after half an hour following a partially-cleared corner when Toni Kroos whipped in a cross to the back post where French international Benzema produced a teasing header that looped in over Mignolet.

Benzema capitalised on another corner four minutes before the interval as he was left with an empty net and a tap-in for his second when sloppy defending by Liverpool cost them once more.

Supporters were holding their heads in their hands. It was even more depressing to recall the famous night in 2009 when Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres inspired Liverpool to a near-identical masterclass demolition of Madrid.

There was still faint optimism around Anfield as thoughts perhaps drifted back to that epic occasion in 2005 where Liverpool went on to win the Champions League final against Real boss Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan despite trailing 3-0, but all hopes were soon extinguished.

Calm before the storm: Liverpool line up ahead of their Champions League match against Real Madrid. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Calm before the storm: Liverpool line up ahead of their Champions League match against Real Madrid. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Real controlled play in the second half and Liverpool’s infrequent chances were not destined to add up to anything meaningful, putting pressure on Brendan Rodgers’ men when they travel to face the Spanish giants at the Bernabeu Stadium in their next European clash on November 4.

With just one victory and two defeats from three matches to date, Liverpool’s Champions League survival prospects were given a surprise boost by Ludogorets beating Basel 1-0 elsewhere in Group B.

Confidence is clearly lacking at present and the Reds desperately need to turn things around when Hull City are their visitors in the Premier League on Saturday.

About Connor Dunn, JMU Journalism