Friday, 7 November 2014

Benzema Strike Downs Reds

Ahead of a tough clash against Premier League table toppers Chelsea, Liverpool travelled to face a Real Madrid side who bested them 3-0 in the reverse meeting.

Despite some criticism in the build-up to the match, Brendan Rodgers named a mixed strength side with Fabio Borini, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva all included which resulted in a strong substitutes bench containing Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson.

It was no surprise that Madrid made the better start as James Rodriguez forced Simon Mignolet into a clawing save after a shot from ten yards away from goal before Cristiano Ronaldo aimed a chance towards the top corner but Mignolet was on form again to deny the Real striker with a superb stop.

However, the Belgian was powerless to prevent Real from opening the scoring in the 27th minute as a sweeping cross from Marcelo out on the left found Karim Benzema at the back post with the Frenchman finishing first time into the roof of the Liverpool net.

Real's confidence grew and Cristiano Ronaldo tried his luck from 30 yards out with a free-kick which was punched clear by Simon Mignolet before Marcelo began a move which saw him combine with Karim Benzema with the former volleying towards goal only to be denied by a stop from Mignolet.

Liverpool looked to respond early in the second half and created a move with Alberto Moreno finding Adam Lallana in space allowing the England midfielder to hit a snap-shot at goal which despite going wide, prompted a rise in atmosphere from the travelling Kopites.

Real bounced back and came close to scoring a second when a neat combination between Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema saw the former advance on goal but a superb block from Kolo Toure ended the move. Brendan Rodgers looked to change the game with a double change with Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling replacing Lucas Leiva and Lazar Markovic.

However, Real also boosted their attack with the introduction of Gareth Bale and the Welshman came close to a second strike for Real when he connected to Marcelo's pass but his effort rebounded back off the cross bar. Liverpool pushed to equalise and seal a draw but the illusive goal eluded them and meant Real secured a place in the knockout stages while Liverpool need to win both remaining games to have a chance of advancing.