Real Madrid moved into the semifinals of the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League after their makeshift defence got the job done as they held onto a clean sheet against Liverpool to finish off the job after a first leg success back home in Madrid.
Los Blancos won the first leg at home 3-1 thanks to a Vinicius Junior brace and held onto a 0-0 draw at Anfield last night that saw them go through to the final 4 to set up a clash against a resurgent Chelsea.
Zinedine Zidane’s side were cursed with injuries with all the starting defenders out as Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez were all sidelined. Raphael Varane was also excluded from the side because of COVID-19.
The Frenchman, however, did not let this affect him and his team as Madrid’s makeshift defence got the job done against a struggling Liverpool who will end this campaign trophy-less after winning the Premier League title last season.
The Spanish giants will now face Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in what should be a mouth-watering tie. The Spanish champions will try to win their fifth European crown in 8 years. A Champions League victory this year would make it 4 for ‘Zizou’ as manager as well.
Real arrived at Anfield protecting a 3-1 lead from the first leg and while they eventually went through in relative comfort, Liverpool will curse themselves for missing several glorious first-half chances.
The 2019 Champions League winners, Liverpool, missed some big opportunities to take the lead in the first half and that cost them any chance of a comeback as they failed to have the same impact in the second half.
Mohamed Salah shot straight at Thibaut Courtois, who also made a good save from James Milner, in the opening moments of the game. Milner had another great opportunity to score but he squandered it by missing the target and launching the ball over the crossbar.
Georginio Wijnaldum was also guilty of squandering an opportunity to give the Reds the lead against the La Liga giants.
Real’s best chance saw Karim Benzema’s shot deflected on to the post. Courtois was on top of his game as he blocked Roberto Firmino’s shot in the second half.
Liverpool lacked creativity and a cutting edge in the second half, and Real Madrid looked comfortable in defence as they held onto a 0-0 result.
Liverpool were against the odds coming into the game with a 2-goal disadvantage after the first leg but Jurgen Klopp knew an early goal would have made it possible for the Reds to then mount a comeback given that they had an away goal in the bag.
However, it was not to be the case as the record European Cup winners made it through to be the only Spanish team in the final 4.
Real Madrid have qualified for the semifinals of the European Cup for the 30th time, which is at least 10 more than any other team!
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said, “You always need the key moments. We didn’t lose the tie tonight, we lost in Madrid. It was uncomfortable for Madrid. We were good, aggressive, had chances. We didn’t score and then the experience of Real Madrid played the tie down. That is ourselves this year with the finishing.
“We know how often Mo Salah finishes these things with closed eyes. Not here. Tonight it was absolutely OK, but we are out.
“We love this competition and for other reasons it is very important we are back in it. We can now concentrate on the Premier League and we will. We have to work our socks off.”
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane was happy but knows that the job is not done yet: “We were up against it and we knew we had to suffer tonight, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was to go through. I think we handled the game well, we rode the storm and can be proud of our display.
“We knew they’d start fast and they were really good in the opening 15 minutes, but that’s normal. In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to dig in and we did that and got through.”