LIVERPOOL: Jurgen Klopp’s side paid the price for a disastrous 45 minutes in the Spanish capital last week.
Liverpool exited the Champions League with a whimper having failed to properly test Real Madrid in a goalless draw at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side paid the price for a disastrous 45 minutes in the Spanish capital last week as that 3-1 quarter-final first-leg defeat essentially put them out.
They created enough chances to have clawed back the two-goal deficit but goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was hardly extended as yet another wasteful performance from their forwards proved costly with 15 attempts producing just four on target.
But this was a controlled, disciplined performance from the 13-time European champions who knew exactly what was required to get the job done.
It is almost two years since that famous semi-final second-leg comeback against Barcelona and it was five years to the day since the rousing Europa League recovery against Borussia Dortmund but aside from goals this tie was missing one crucial factor – fans.
Both were played out against a background of cacophonous noise but with Anfield empty there was no atmosphere to feed off what had been a positive start.
Hundreds of supporters had lined Anfield Road, very few wearing masks or observing social distancing, to greet the teams with a number setting off flares and smoke canisters.
However, a small minority resorted to throwing objects at Real’s coach and one window was smashed, an act Liverpool condemned as “unacceptable and shameful” and apologised for any distress.
It was reminiscent of the 2018 Champions League quarter-final when Manchester City’s bus was attacked with bottles and stones.
There was more distress for the visitors when the match kicked off as Liverpool were a different animal to last week’s anemic first-half performance.
Mohamed Salah squandered arguably their best chance after only three minutes when Sadio Mane, looking rejuvenated after being rested at the weekend, squared for him but on his favoured left foot he shot straight at Courtois.
A curling effort from James Milner, maybe somewhat surprisingly preferred to Thiago Alcantara, was then tipped behind.