Monday, February 6, 2023

Real Madrid Eliminate Liverpool, Set Up Champions League semi-final Vs Chelsea

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Real Madrid will meet Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League after dumping their Premier League rivals Liverpool out of the competition.

Zinedine Zidane’s side held a commanding 3-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid and it was goalless on the night to see them through.

Liverpool were guilty of wasting some glorious opportunities in the first half – the best of which fell to Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum – and ultimately they were unable to claw their way back, as they have done so often in previous European ties at Anfield.

Of course, those previous comebacks have all involved the raucous Anfield crowd, which was lacking amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

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Zidane’s outfit, who were without the likes of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, were happy to control possession and slow the game down.

Real will go on to face Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, who defeated Porto 2-1 on aggregate, but Liverpool can now only secure Champions League qualification for next season with a late push for a top-four finish.

There were unsavoury scenes before kick-off, with a window of Real Madrid’s team bus damaged by a crowd gathered outside the stadium, but on the pitch, Liverpool – who came out of the blocks flying – almost got off to the perfect start.

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Salah was clean through on goal inside the first two minutes but struck straight at former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal. Courtois also saved impressively from James Milner.

At the 20-minute mark, Real Madrid had their best moment of the opening stages after a mazy Karim Benzema run ended with the Frenchman striking the post.

Tempers frayed five minutes later as Casemiro flew in late on James Milner, earning himself a booking and a rollocking from Andy Robertson, who was also booked for his troubles.

With five minutes left of the first half, another opportunity fell to Salah but, leaning back, he sent it over Courtois’ bar.

Moments later, Georginio Wijnaldum wasted a great chance, blazing over from about eight yards out after great work down the right-hand side by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Roberto Firmino saw an effort stopped by Courtois early in the second half as the Reds again came out the traps quickly but Real remained happy to soak up the pressure.

Photo Credit: Getty

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