Liverpool will need to produce another huge European display at Anfield if they are to reach the last four of the Champions League after suffering a crushing quarter-final first-leg loss to Real Madrid.
The Reds were largely second best throughout an entertaining game in Spain against a Real side missing its first-choice centre-back pairing, but packed with impressive attacking talent.
Much of the damage was done in the first half, begun when Vinicius Junior took down a brilliant long-range pass from Toni Kroos on his chest before firing the opener past Alisson.
⏰ RESULTS ⏰
⚪️ Vinícius Júnior (2) & Asensio secure first-leg victory for Real Madrid
🔵 De Bruyne & Foden net as Manchester City claim late win the quarter-finals
🤔 Which players impressed you?#UCL
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 6, 2021
Marco Asensio doubled the lead, taking advantage of a lose header from Trent Alexander-Arnold to chip the ball over Alisson and then tap into an empty net.
Liverpool came out fighting after the break, pulling a goal back through Mohamed Salah’s close-range finish off the crossbar to spark their best 20-minute spell of the contest.
But they were stung when Vinicius Junior found the net via a first-time shot following a fine attacking move with 25 minutes to go.
It leaves them with a mountain to climb in the return leg at an empty Anfield on 14 April.
Elsewhere, Phil Foden’s last-gasp strike gave Manchester City a crucial slender advantage in their first leg against Borussia Dortmund at Etihad Stadium.
City’s hopes of reaching the semi-final looked to be in the balance when Marco Reus gave Dortmund what looked like a priceless away goal with a cool finish from Erling Haaland’s pass six minutes from time.
City, who had a first-half penalty award overturned by VAR, showed commendable strength of character and great determination to react to the blow of Reus’ goal to score the winner and are now in pole position before the return leg in Germany.