Vinicius Jr torments Liverpool as Real Madrid earn significant advantage in CL q-final tie

Vinicius Jr TEAMtalk

Liverpool have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals after they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in their quarter-final first-leg clash in Spain.

Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr scored twice for Real in a game played at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium due to work being done at the Bernabeu.

Marco Asensio was also on target for the impressive home side, with Mo Salah giving Liverpool hope with an away goal.

But the Reds will have to be substantially better in the return leg if they are to progress.

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita made only his second Champions League start of the season. He was one of three changes by Jurgen Klopp.

Keita replaced Thiago Alcantara, while Georginio Wijnaldum came in for James Milner. The extra pace of Diogo Jota was also preferred to Roberto Firmino in attack.

Real’s problems in defence meant Eder Militao and Nacho were partnered together in the centre of the back four.

Karim Benzema tested Alisson with an early shot but the Brazilian was up to the task. Ferland Mendy’s cross was then narrowly headed wide by Vinicius Jr in a fast start from the home side.

But Real took a deserved lead in the 27th minute. Toni Kroos’ 50-yard pass caught out Nat Phillips and Trent Alexander-Arnold and found a flying Vinicius, who controlled superbly on his chest before slotting past Alisson.

The lively Vinicius then saw an effort deflected wide after a swift Real counter. Marco Ansesio thumped the resulting corner over the bar.

Trent fluffs his lines

Real deservedly doubled their advantage 10 minutes before the break thanks to more slack Liverpool defending.

Another simple ball over the top was headed straight to Asensio in the area by a diving Alexander-Arnold. The Spain star lifted the ball over the onrushing Alisson before volleying into an empty net.

Klopp was clearly angry at Liverpool’s listless display and hauled off Keita for Thiago four minutes before the break.

The Reds boss earned his corn with his half-time chat as Liverpool grabbed an away goal in the 51st minute.

Mo Salah TEAMtalk

A fine passing move eventually found Diogo Jota, who drove into the area before seeing his shot deflect into the path of Salah. There was still work to do but the Egyptian managed to bundle the ball home via the crossbar.

The visitors clearly had the tails up, with Jota thumping a header wide from a brilliant Alexander-Arnold cross moments later.

But Kroos reminded Klopp’s men that Real were still a threat when he blazed an effort over the bar.

And that threat was all too ‘real’ when the home side restored their two-goal advantage. And it was that man Vinicius again with 25 minutes to go.

Modric was given too much space in the Liverpool area and found the Brazilian, who’s first-time effort could not be kept out by Alisson.

Klopp introduced Xherdan Shaqiri and Firmino for Ozan Kabak and the quiet Joto with nine minutes to go.

However, Liverpool failed to muster another serious effort on goal and will have to step up their game in the second leg at Anfield on April 14 to progress.