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Dublin: 12°C Monday 14 June 2021
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LIVERPOOL HOST CHAMPIONS League holders Real Madrid on what promises to be another unforgettable European night at Anfield — for better or for worse for Reds fans.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the action. Email eoin@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Good evening and welcome to live minute-by-minute updates of tonight’s Champions League clash between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Anfield.

Kick-off is at 7.45pm. Here are the teams:

Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson; Sterling, Balotelli, Coutinho.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Rodriguez, Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema.

Why don’t you whet you appetite for tonight’s game by taking a peek at this analysis piece on Liverpool and where they’ve been going wrong in recent weeks?

Hugs and kisses between the coaches earlier on. Though Brendan does look a little TOO happy to see Ancelotti. Maybe it’s mind games…

It’s not our intention to scare anyone this evening but maybe worth remembering that Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 19 times in 12 games this season for Real Madrid.

Liverpool have scored 17 times in 11 games.

This will hopefully give you an idea as to how the teams will line up tonight. Coutinho gets a start after his impressive showing from the bench against QPR. Joe Allen is also included while Alberto Moreno replaces Jose Enrique (who was pretty terrible at Loftus Road).

Teams are in the tunnel everyone…Atmosphere sounds absolutely incredible at Anfield. YNWA should be spine-tingling.

And we’re off! Already Jordan Henderson has gone through Ronaldo in true ‘Keane-on-Overmars’ style.

Balotelli is under ridiculous pressure tonight. With the game three minutes old, Ronnie Whelan has already criticised him over on RTE2…It’s going to be a long evening, ain’t it?

5 mins - Decent start from Liverpool. They’re trying to impose themselves and Sterling is almost in after a clever through-ball from Henderson. Looks like he’s fouled by Arbeloa as he tries to latch onto it but the referee waves it away. The youngster absolutely livid with that.

8 mins - This has started at an almighty pace – both teams going full-throttle. Ronaldo cuts it from the left and fires a shot towards goal but it’s straight at Mignolet and the keeper easily gets behind it.

11 mins – CLOSE! Gerrard gets a shot away from the edge of the box, Casillas appears slightly unsighted at first and is slow getting across to it but he stretches to the bottom corner and pushes it away. On the replay, it looks like it may have taken a nick off Kroos on the way.

13 mins – CLOSE! Liverpool force a couple of corners and Casillas is almost caught from one dangerous in-swinger. He makes a hash of it, is caught underneath the ball’s flight and desperately throws an arm up. Real get away with it…

By the way, Rodriguez had been off the pitch receiving treatment on a gash above his eye. He’s got a pretty impressive bandage covering it now and a brand new shirt too. But his midfield colleagues are overshadowing him so far.

21 mins – Madrid force a corner of their own. It drops to Rodriguez at the far post and he weighs up the shot. Unfortunately, it appears the eye injury may be causing more problems than he’d like to admit because he sends a hopeless effort into Row Z. Ronaldo, who wanted to take control of the initial dropping ball, is, eh, not best pleased.

23 mins – GOAL! RONALDO!

Well, what were we saying about Ronaldo never scoring at Anfield before? He’s given Real a terrific lead here. A neat interchange between him, Benzema and Rodriguez…The Colombian clips a superb ball forward for Ronaldo to run onto and as it drops, he directs it to the far corner, beyond the despairing dive of Mignolet. Really, really nice goal.

28 mins – CLOSE! Ronaldo pops up on the edge of the area and looks to curl one into Mignolet’s near post and he doesn’t miss by much. Suddenly the tempo is suiting Real here and Liverpool can’t catch their breath.

30 mins – GOAL! BENZEMA!

This is not going according to plan for the hosts. Seven minutes after Ronaldo’s opener, Benzema doubles the advantage. What a superb cross from Kroos to pick him out at the far post, the Frenchman looping an equally-great header to the far corner. Liverpool have tried to play Russian Roulette with the best counter-attacking team in Europe and need to rapidly change things if they are to have any hopes of this not getting out of hand.

Incredible assist by Kroos – little back-lift, digs out a brilliant cross right onto Benzema’s forehead. Rodriguez was unmarked behind him, just in case.

Kroos has just picked up a yellow card after a cynical foul on Sterling. Liverpool desperately trying to get him into the game and he has been their brightest spark. He’s got the ability to beat players but they just can’t afford to gamble too much going forward.

41 mins – GOAL! BENZEMA!

It’s 3-0 and it’s all over here. Liverpool are all over the place from the in-swinging corner. Mignolet can’t get there, it breaks for Pepe who flicks it to Benzema and from a couple of yards he taps in his second. Pretty shambolic stuff and whatever magic tricks Brendan Rodgers knows (if any), he’d be wise to use some the the interval.

43 mins – VERY CLOSE! They really needed that to go in, did Liverpool. Joe Allen gets a shot in, looking top arrow it across Casillas to the far corner but the keeper does brilliantly to push it away. Referee gives a goal-kick though…

46 mins – VERY CLOSE! A great rally from Liverpool after conceding the third. First Allen goes close and now Coutinho goes closer. He thumps a terrific right-footed strike towards the corner, catches it perfectly but it bounces back off the upright and Real get it clear.

And that’s half-time! 

Here’s Benzema’s second goal and Real’s third. Mignolet just seems to stop momentarily before going to challenge Pepe. Would’ve fancied the keeper to get out to it and smother because of how heavy the centre-back’s initial touch is.

Ancelotti would know a thing or two about throwing away three-goal leads to Liverpool, in fairness.

John Giles says Benzema’s first goal is one the best headers he’s ever seen. On second and third viewings, it is a wonderful finish. It curls quite spectacularly and just catches the underside of the bar as it falls to the corner.

46 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Lallana (on) – Balotelli (off)

We’re off for the second half and a moody Italian will play no further part. Not sure what such a statement from Rodgers will do to Balotelli’s long-term future, especially if Sterling plays through the middle and does okay.

The word is that Balotelli swapped shirts with Pepe as the teams headed to the dressing-rooms. That’s unconfirmed but certainly not outside the realms of possibility.

50 mins – Real break at speed with Ronaldo and Benzema leading the charge. Marcelo provides the overlap and should really do better with the cross. It eventually is worked wide Rodriguez on the far side, he cuts inside and looks for the top corner. But there’s not enough bend on it and it drifts wide.

The Balotelli shirt-swapping story seems to have been confirmed by a couple of reputable journos. It has always struck me as one of the weirder aspects to football games…

52 mins - Bright start to the second period by Liverpool with Lallana’s directness a major positive. He’s bright, is getting on the ball and driving towards goal. Gamble playing Sterling through the middle, I feel. He caused Real problems in the first half by running at opponents from deep.

57 mins – Real essentially just strangling this game now. Not much happening in the final third for Liverpool so the visitors try and stretch things in wide areas. Marcelo is played in again, in acres of space but can’t convert their good territory into a fourth. Liverpool need something quickly but don’t appear close to getting it.

62 mins – CLOSE! Some terrible Liverpool defending allows possession to be squandered in an incredibly dangerous position. Ronaldo takes a touch and fires a shot towards goal but Mignolet beats it away. Those defensive lapses (we saw plenty against QPR) are destroying Liverpool’s season.

64 mins – VERY CLOSE! Great move from Real as they rampage down Liverpool’s right side again. Isco sends in the cross, Benzema helps it on brilliantly to Ronaldo who just has Mignolet to beat. He tries to knock it to the far corner but the keeper makes a terrific stop. Great football.

67 mins – SUBSTITUTIONS!

Emre Can (on) – Henderson (off) and Markovic (on) – Coutinho (off) 

No changes left for Liverpool now as they go all out. Markovic has hinted at good things – now would be a good time to step up and deliver.

70 mins - Sterling has a relatively tame pop from inside the area that’s straight at Casillas but the keeper decides to push it over the bar and not take any chances.

72 mins – VERY CLOSE! Nice, enterprising play from Lallana and Liverpool get through in the left channel. The cross is played into Markovic who looks to tee it up for Allen – it looks a sure-fire goal but with a litany of bodies around Emre Can prods wide while in an offside position.

75 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Khedira (on) – Ronaldo (off)

A mixture of boos and cheers. No equalling or breaking of Raul’s goalscoring record tonight for the attacker.

The small matter of El Clasico at the weekend for Real. What a lovely situation for them to be in right now. They haven’t had to get out of second gear in this half and Ancelotti could afford to bring off Ronaldo and keep him fresh.

81 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Illarramendi (on) - Kroos (off)

Some more obscenely good stats from Kroos tonight, not to mind that gorgeous assist for Benzema’s header. Not a bad evening for him.

85 mins – SUBSTITUTION! Nacho (on) – Marcelo (off)

Thankfully, that’s the end of the changes tonight.

AND THAT’S FULL-TIME! 

Disappointing night for Liverpool but poor defending cost them once again. Their issues up front continue as Balotelli’s half-time withdrawal shows and Real were at a canter throughout the second half.

They began brightly but it was a risky game playing at such a quick tempo against such immense counter-attackers. Ultimately though, it was basic defending that cost them – the second and third goals especially.

Had they scored (through Coutinho) just before the break, who knows? But even though Lallana brightened things up after the interval but it was too little too late.

Thanks for staying with us this evening and we’ll have more reaction on the site shortly.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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