Real Madrid s Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior celebrates scoring the team s first goal during the UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 21, 2023. Photo: AFP
Down by two goals after 14 minutes on Tuesday, defending champion Madrid came back to win 5-2 in a classic at Anfield and take a commanding lead into the second leg of the round of 16 matchup.
Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema scored two goals each to stun Liverpool and confirm the Spanish giant will take some stopping in its defense of the trophy.
If anything, this Madrid team looks more complete than the one that beat Jurgen Klopp's team in last year’s Paris final. Yet this was a win that echoed the memorable comebacks that led to that record-extending 14th Champions League title.
Darwin Nunez put Liverpool ahead after four minutes and Mohamed Salah doubled the lead 10 minutes later.
In the face of a typically daunting Anfield atmosphere, the visitors looked in danger of buckling under the pressure until Vinicius Jr. sparked a rousing fightback.
The Brazil international pulled one back in the 21st and evened the score in the 36th.
Madrid took control after the break when Eder Militao headed the visitors in front two minutes into the second half.
Benzema's double in the 55th and 67th means the quarterfinals are in sight for Madrid, while Liverpool is left hoping for a near miracle in the Bernabeu.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)