Real Madrid beats Liverpool to reach Champions League QF
MADRID (AP) — There was no historic comeback for Liverpool. Real Madrid's title defense in the Champions League rolls into the quarterfinals.
Liverpool never really came close to overcoming its three-goal deficit from the first leg against the titleholders at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on Wednesday, losing 1-0 to end its hopes of another run to the final.
Karim Benzema scored late and Madrid advanced to the last eight for the third straight season with a 6-2 aggregate score following a 5-2 win from the first leg in England, when it rallied from two goals down early in the first half.
Liverpool was trying to pull off something never done before in the Champions League — erase a three-goal loss as a visitor. Only five times the team that lost at home rallied in the second leg in Europe's top club competition.
The only time Madrid failed to advance in the Champions League after winning the first leg on the road was in 2019, when it was eliminated by Ajax in the round of 16. It had won six of its last seven matches against Liverpool in the tournament, drawing another.
Napoli defeated Eintracht in the other round-of-16 match on Wednesday to join Madrid, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Manchester City in the draw for the quarterfinals on Friday.
Benzema scored from close range after a pass by Vinícius Júnior in the 79th minute. The France striker, who had missed Madrid’s Spanish league win against Espanyol last weekend because of an injury, has scored 13 goals in his last eight Champions League knockout stage matches.
Liverpool came out with an attack-minded lineup and showed its intentions early, with Darwin Núñez forcing Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make a tough save on a breakaway seven minutes into the match.
It was an open match at the Bernabéu and Madrid had its chances as well, with Eduardo Camavinga coming close to scoring in the 20th with a shot from outside the area that struck the crossbar after a deflection by Alisson Becker. The Liverpool goalkeeper also stopped a chance by Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior in the first half and another in the second in a one-on-one situation with midfielder Federico Valverde.
Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp kept trying to push his team forward from the sideline, but as the minutes passed it became clear it wasn’t going to be enough for the English team.
Liverpool had managed a big comeback at home in the 2019 semifinals, rallying against another Spanish club, Barcelona. It won 4-0 after losing 3-0 at the Camp Nou to keep alive a run that eventually ended with the team winning the trophy.
It was Madrid’s 300th Champions League game.
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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press