Liverpool have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals after suffering a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in their quarter-final first leg in Spain.
Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr has scored twice for Real in a game played at Alfredo Di Stefano stadium due to ongoing work at the Bernabeu.
Marco Asensio was also on target for the impressive home side, with Mo Salah giving Liverpool hope with an away goal.
But the Reds will have to be significantly better in the second leg if they want to progress.
Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita has only made his second Champions League start to the season. He was one of Jurgen Klopp’s three changes.
Keita replaced Thiago Alcantara, while Georginio Wijnaldum replaced James Milner. The extra pace of Diogo Jota was also preferred to Roberto Firmino in attack.
Real’s problems in defense meant that Eder Militao and Nacho were associated with the center of the four-backs.
Karim Benzema tested Alisson with a quick shot but the Brazilian was up to the task. Ferland Mendy’s cross was then largely narrowly led by Vinicius Jr in a quick start for the home side.
But Real took a deserved lead in the 27th minute. Toni Kroos’ 50-yard pass caught Nat Phillips and Trent Alexander-Arnold and found a flying Vinicius, who superbly controlled his chest before passing Alisson.
The lively Vinicius then saw an effort deflected widely after a quick against Real. Marco Ansesio hit the resulting corner over the bar.
Trent ruffles his lines
Real rightly doubled their advantage 10 minutes before the break thanks to a softer defense from Liverpool.
Another single balloon on top was aimed directly at Asensio in the area by an Alexander-Arnold diver. The Spanish star lifted the ball over the hurrying Alisson before flying into an empty net.
Klopp was clearly angry at Liverpool’s apathetic display and fired Keita for Thiago four minutes before the break.
The Reds boss earned his corn with his halftime chat as Liverpool scored an away goal in the 51st minute.
A nice passing move eventually found Diogo Jota, who led into the zone before seeing his shot deflect into Salah’s path. There was still work to be done but the Egyptian managed to bring the ball home via the crossbar.
The visitors clearly had the tail, with Jota hitting a broad header from a brilliant Alexander-Arnold cross moments later.
But Kroos reminded Klopp’s men that Los Blancos are always a threat when they put in an effort above the bar.
And that threat was too “real” when the home side restored their two-goal advantage. And it was that man Vinicius again with 25 minutes left.
Modric had too much space in the Liverpool area and found the Brazilian, whose first effort could not be prevented by Alisson.
Klopp presented Xherdan Shaqiri and Firmino for Ozan Kabak and calm Joto nine minutes from the end.
However, Liverpool failed to muster another serious effort on goal and will need to step up their game in the rematch at Anfield on April 14 to progress.