UEFA Champions League
Last 16 2nd Leg (5-0 on aggregate)
Tue 10th March 2009 @ 7:45pm
If we take a mini step back in time, the talk before the tie was by just how many goals would Real Madrid thrash Liverpool by? The media were fawning over Real Madrid’s best run of results for 27 years, and the Spanish media and the club’s players, manager and officials couldn’t wait to deliver their two part demolition of Liverpool.
And even before this game, the Spanish national newspapers led with the headline (in Spanish of course) ‘This is Anfield: So What?‘
Now they know exactly ‘what‘.
So despite the hopes of the media, despite the ridiculous statements uttered by the minority Rafa-bashing contingent, Liverpool delivered another European masterclass. Another big name now fallen by the wayside as Liverpool, for the umpteenth time, demolish one of the continent’s biggest sides.
The reds were boosted by the return of Torres and Arbeloa who had been doubts for the clash. Benayoun, one of the heroes of the first leg, unfortunately missed out with injury.
But back to the game and the first noticeable change at Anfield was the atmosphere. I’ve said before that the crowd have been as guilty as the players at Anfield this season for putting in poor performances at home in the Premiership. Tonight, whilst by no means reaching the dizzy heights of the 2004/5 campaign, was a step forward in terms of ‘support’.
Back to the game and the reds flew out the traps. The passing was as slick as it has been all season long, and the movement and pace confounded Real Madrid’s superstars. Iker Casillas was the man of the match according to Benitez, and within the first 10 minutes the reds could have had 4 goals. Torres was tearing the Madrid defence apart and Javier Mascherano struck two venomous strikes on goal.
Liverpool haven’t been known for their first half goals this season, so against Europe’s most decorated club they decided to hit them twice in the first half.
The first goal came from a powerful reds break, Kuyt neatly cutting back the ball for Torres to send the reds on their way.
Before the half hour the reds lead had doubled. When the cross from Aurelio came in deep the best reaction Gabriel Heinze could do to stop Kuyt’s advance was to throw his arm at the ball. No question – penalty kick, and Gerrard dispatched it with pleasure.
What would the second half bring? Liverpool taking it easy and protecting their 3-0 aggregate lead? No chance. The reds have been on the right side of one of those 3-0 reverses before, so the reds lashed a couple more past Madrid to leave them thoroughly embarrassed.
Two minutes in to the second half, Ryan Babel delivered a terrific left wing cross in which Steven Gerrard put away with a shot of pure quality.
Liverpool took the opportunity to remove the likes of Gerrard and Torres to standing ovations, and amongst the substitutes Jay Spearing came on and put in a fantastic cameo appearance. His name was sang loud and proud by the Anfield faithful and he could nearly have netted a dream goal had Torres crossed instead of shot late on.
With two minutes left on the clock another fine Liverpool move enabled Andrea Dossena, a forlorn Anfield figure, to help himself to his first Liverpool goal.
The whistle was blown early to avoid any further humiliation for Real Madrid.
The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals will be made on Friday. Guess which team 7 other clubs will be hoping to avoid?
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Alonso (Lucas 60), Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard (Spearing 74), Babel, Torres (Dossena 83).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Ngog, Kelly.
Booked: Gerrard, Mascherano, Dossena.
Goals: Torres 16, Gerrard 28 pen, 47, Dossena 88.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro (Van der Vaart 64), Pepe, Heinze, Robben (Marcelo 46), Lassana Diarra, Gago (Guti 77), Sneijder, Raul, Higuain.
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Saviola, Metzelder, Miguel Torres.
Booked: Pepe, Heinze, Marcelo.
Ref: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium).