The Reds were unable to turn around the two-goal deficit from their first-leg defeat against Real Madrid as they played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield

Match statistics: Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid

In the end it was a bridge too far, even for Liverpool.

There was to be no Anfield miracle for Jurgen Klopp’s men. For the second season running they exit the Champions League at the hands of a team from Madrid, having failed to overturn a first-leg deficit on home soil.

For Atletico 2020, read Real 2021.

Liverpool huffed and they puffed, but they simply could not blow the house down. It finished 0-0 on the night, the Reds eliminated courtesy of that costly 3-1 defeat in the Spanish capital eight days ago.

That was where the damage was done. How Klopp will regret the way his side started that game; passive, nervous, disorganised. How he will rue the way, having clawed their way back into the tie through Mohamed Salah’s away goal, they ceded control so quickly.

A 2-1 loss was manageable, but 3-1 was a killer, especially with no 12th man to roar them on back at Anfield.

So it proved, with Real able to withstand the inevitable second-leg onslaught, and Liverpool unable to convert dominance into goals.

They had a right go, at least. Their performance was levels above the one we saw in Madrid – although it had to be, in all fairness. Klopp could not fault his players’ effort, their belief or their heart.

Their finishing, though? That’s another matter entirely.

The chances came, especially in the first half, but none were taken. Goals have been at a premium at Anfield of late, and they could not find one here, let alone two.

Their finishing was poor, with Salah and Gini Wijnaldum guilty of bad misses before the break. Wijnaldum, in particular, will have nightmares about his.

Salah drew a save from Thibaut Courtois inside the opening three minutes when he might have done better, and the former Chelsea goalkeeper was at his very best soon after, saving at full-stretch from James Milner, whose 25-yarder appeared destined for the top corner.

Liverpool’s desire was there, their pressing sharp and their aggression clear. Milner, selected surprisingly ahead of Thiago Alcantara in midfield, set the tone in the opening seconds, smashing into Karim Benzema firmly but fairly. Message sent.

Real struggled at times during the opening 45 minutes, unnerved by Liverpool’s tempo. Even the brilliant Toni Kroos found his radar off, although Benzema saw a cross-shot deflected against the post after a rare foray forward.

When the half-time whistle blew, the tie was still there, although you suspected Klopp’s team would regret their misses, that they had had their chance and blown it.

Mohamed Salah, Nacho, Liverpool vs Real Madrid 2020-21

So it proved. Liverpool continued to probe and pushed after the interval, but nothing came off.

Courtois saved well from Roberto Firmino, Salah took too long in the penalty area. Diogo Jota, sent on as a substitute with Thiago, saw a shot deflected into the side-netting, while the outstanding Eder Militao, Sergio Ramos’ deputy, blocked from Firmino.

Liverpool kept going, but the jig was up long before the final blast of referee Bjorn Kuipers’ whistle.

It was up, really, before they had left Madrid.



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