Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema both struck twice as Real Madrid hit back from two down to claim a sensational 5-2 victory at Liverpool in a devastating first leg performance in their Champions League last-16 tie at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side had initially looked up to the challenge and roared out the traps with Darwin Nunez opening the scoring courtesy of a sublime backheel flick from Mo Salah’s low pass.
The Egyptian then doubled the home side’s lead on 14 minutes when he capitalised on a howler from goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. It was Salah’s 42nd goal for Liverpool in the competition, which saw him become the club’s all-time leading scorer in Europe.
Real had looked set to be blown away at this juncture, but soon recovered and reduced the arrears on 21 minutes when a piece of individual genius resulted in Vinicius thundering a wonderful effort into the far corner from the left side of the box.
The 22-year-old Real forward then silenced Anfield 15 minutes later when he inadvertently deflected Alisson’s dreadful attempt at a pass to the right flank into an empty net.
It had been a breathless, even spectacle up to the interval but the visitors moved up a gear in the second period and ripped through the Merseysiders at will.
First, Eder Militao headed home Luka Modric’s left-wing free-kick on 47 minutes before Benzema pretty much put the tie out of sight.
The Frenchman saw his first goal deflect in off Joe Gomez and then helped himself to a double 23 minutes from time when he side-stepped Alisson to gleefully fire into an empty net following another ruthless counter attack.
The result leaves Liverpool with an absolute mountain to climb ahead of the second leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, March 15.
Klopp’s men will now turn their attention back to their push for a top-four spot when they visit Crystal Palace on Saturday evening. Real host Atletico in the Madrid derby.