Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool (Benayoun 82′)
Stadium: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain
Competition: UEFA Champions League
Date: 25 February 2009
Kickoff: 19:45 GMT, 14:45 ET
Liverpool got a huge win at the Bernabéu as they defeated a listless Real Madrid squad by a score of 1-0. Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below.
Both of these clubs are firmly in second place in their respective domestic leagues. Both of these clubs are out of their respective domestic cup competitions. As such, this could be the best chance for either of these storied clubs to take home some silverware this season. Throw in the fact that Rafa Benitez continues to be mentioned for the Liverpool job, and this should be an especially juicy matchup.
Liverpool will hope to get their captain and inspirational leader, Steven Gerrard, back in time for this match. Gerrard missed out on Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City over the weekend, a result that seemingly crippled their title hopes. They certainly could have used him, as Liverpool squandered several scoring chances and were overrun in the midfield during the second half. He could be healthy in time for this match, which would be a huge boost for his squad. Otherwise, Liverpool fans could be absolutely sickened by the alternative: Lucas Leiva making yet another start in midfield.
As for Real Madrid, they seem to be firing on all cylinders as of late. They thrashed Real Betis by a score of 6-1 over the weekend, and beat Sporting Gijon by a score of 4-0 last weekend. Their strike force of Raul, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, and Gonzalo HiguaÃn seem to be giving opposing defenders nightmares, while the defensive foursome of Cannavaro, Pepe, Heinze, and Sergio Ramos seem to be gelling at the right time. Too bad Huntelaar isn’t eligible to play. Whether or not they miss him will depend on how Huntelaar’s countrymen, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, and Rafael Van der Vaart play, to say nothing of Lassana Diarra, who the club chose to put on the roster instead of Huntelaar.
Who will triumph in this battle of two of the most successful European teams of all time? Tune in and find out!
Real Madrid: Casillas, Ramos, Cannavaro, Pepe, Heinze, Robben, Diarra, Gago, Marcelo, Raul (c), Higuain.
Subs: Dudek, Guti, Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Saviola, Gomez, Metzelder.
As expected, Robben will get the start in midfield as Ramos will hope that his winger’s knowledge of Liverpool helps the squad. Diarra and Gago, who have become a regular tandem in the center of midfield, will start, as will Marcelo. Additionally, the usual foursome of Ramos, Cannavaro, Pepe, and Heinze will start in the back. No Huntelaar means Higuain will move up to partner Raul. Real will have plenty of firepower to call from with Sneijder, Guti, Saviola, and Van der Vaart, while Metzelder gives them another defender in case they need to sit on a lead.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher (c), Skrtel, Aurelio, Benayoun, Alonso, Mascherano, Riera, Kuyt, Torres.
Subs: Diego, Lucas, Dossena, Hyypia, Ngog, Babel, Gerrard.
No Gerrard in the starting lineup, although he’ll be available as a sub. Liverpool will make a couple of changes from the side that drew with Manchester City over the weekend. Dossena, who was roundly criticized for his play against City, will make way for Aurelio, while Lucas, who’s been roundly criticized for his play all season, will be replaced by Alonso.
90′ + 3 Last chance for Real as they build their attack. Aurelio clears the ball away, and it looks like that will do it. There’s the whistle and we’re done! Real have put themselves in a hole, and we’ll see if they can do better at Anfield. Thanks to everyone who followed along! See you next time!
90′ + 1 I wonder how Benitez will spin the topic of his tactics after the match. He criticized Everton for parking their bus behind the ball, but Liverpool more or less did the same thing today. Meanwhile, Kuyt will come off and everyone’s favorite Red, Lucas, will come on.
90′ Ramos and Guti get their wires crossed and Real just don’t look like they have it today. There will be three minutes of added time. Meanwhile, Heinze gets it on the edge of the box, but Alonso makes a strong tackle to get it away.
89′ Wow, Bayern are up 5-0 on Sporting. I guess you can close the book on Sporting. If you didn’t already.
88′ Riera is off and Gerrard will be coming on for his first appearance since hurting his hamstring against Everton in the F.A. Cup.
87′ Gago with a nasty tackle on Riera, and he gets booked. Meanwhile, Riera is down on the pitch and clutching his leg. On the replay, it’s clear that Gago took a good whack at Riera and wasn’t even close to getting the ball there. He’s lucky he didn’t get sent off.
85′ That could be a killer for Real’s European hopes. On the other hand, Rafa sure made a great first-impression with Real’s Board of Directors, didn’t he? I wonder if he brought his resume with him. At this point, he could probably get Rick Parry to write him a glowing letter of reference.
84′ Riera gets booked for a handball and Real will have a free kick from roughly the same area where Liverpool had theirs. Guti swings it towards the near post, but Raul’s header goes over the crossbar. Costly yellow for Riera, though as he’ll miss the return leg.
82′ GOAL! Aurelio delivers the ball into the box towards the center of the goal, and Benayoun heads it past Casillas! Wow! Terrible marking from Real’s defenders. How do you let a guy that short beat you with a header?
81′ Heinze throws Kuyt to the ground, and Liverpool have a dangerous free kick from the right wing that’s a good 30 yards out.
80′ Ramos’ cross gets deflected out for a corner. On the corner Cannavaro gets a head on it, but can’t get it on target. Higuain is down in the box after running into Skrtel’s elbow. Real fans want a penalty, but there was no intent there.
79′ Raul gets it and he makes a run into the box. He’s got three defenders around him, but he keeps it. Of course, one man rarely beats three, and Raul loses it.
78′ Meanwhile, Reina slips on the pitch once again, this time on a goal kick. Will that play a role later on?
76′ Gago sends it to Ramos down the right wing. He sends in a horrible cross that’s way over the crossbar. Ugh!
75′ Gago gets called for a foul on Kuyt after he blocks him off near the center line.
74′ Heinze with a long cross from the left wing, but Reina is out to grab it.
73′ Babel and Benayoun with a nice one-two, and Benayoun tries a shot that gets blocked by Pepe. Excellent defending there.
72′ Liverpool knock the corner out of the box and Ramos chases after it. He goes down after Arebloa gives him a slight shove, but no foul. Seemed like a soft challenge.
71′ Robben unleashes a great shot from distance (with his left, of course) and catches Reina off guard. He just manages to get a hand on it, though, and pushes it out for a corner.
69′ What a yawner so far. Good thing I have my cup of coffee here with me. Meanwhile, Robben runs along the edge of the box to the right wing but doesn’t shoot. Eventually, he lays it off to Ramos, but his cross gets cut out by Liverpool. Oh right, Robben can only shoot with his left foot.
68′ Guti has a free kick from about 40 yards out or so, and he sends the free kick towards the far post towards Pepe. It eludes him, though, and Reina will kick it away.
67′ Mascherano is booked for a foul on Gago. Gago is on the ground, but eventually gets up and seems to be okay.
66′ Reina slips as he punts it away and it’s to Diarra. He sends a long pass into the box for Raul, but he gets blocked off and he wants a foul. No call from the refs, though.
63′ Great run by Higuain as he gets past Riera and Arbeloa and is into the box. Carragher closes him down, though, and Higuain’s cross hits the side netting.
62′ Torres limps off and he’ll be replaced by Babel. Don’t worry, I won’t make a Robbie Keane reference here.
60′ Robben makes another run down the right, but he gets closed down by Riera and Aurelio once again.
59′ Benayoun with a great run into the space and he’s got Pepe and Cannavaro on their heels. He lays it off to Riera, who makes the run down the left, but his shot is weak and doesn’t trouble Casillas.
58′ Robben gets fouled along the right wing after Carragher slips and then tugs on Robben’s jersey to make sure he goes down, too. Free kick goes into the box, but Kuyt clears it away.
56′ Torres will go into the book for a foul on Diarra. Meanwhile, Arbeloa is being tended to on the sidelines. Looks like he’s bleeding from the lip or something.
53′ Robben with a great run as he splits through Riera and Mascherano and his shot hits the side of the netting. He looks like the Robben of old. Meanwhile, Gerrard looks like he’s getting loose on the bench. Ramos comes back and he fires a hard shot that Reina easily saves.
51′ Higuain and Robben have some miscommunication, and Higuain gives it away.
49′ Diarra runs over Mascherano, but he loses the ball. Danger for Real Madrid as a long cross from Aurelio into the box brings Casillas out and he can’t corral it. Kuyt gets it on the right edge of the box and he lifts a cross towards Torres, but Pepe knocks it out to the center of the box. Alonso is there, but he shanks his effort and it’s off target.
48′ Alonso tees up the free kick and tries to find Torres in the box, but it’s got far too much on it and it’s out for a goal kick. What a waste! I guess he’s better from further away.
47′ First booking of the match as Cannavaro who gets booked for a shove on Kuyt. Liverpool will have a free kick opportunity from about 30 yards away.
46′ Real Madrid will make one change as Guti comes on for Marcelo. Robben looks like he’s moving over to the left. We kick off and we’re underway!
Both sides have put the pressure on, but neither side has really been close to breaking the deadlock. Alonso almost got lucky near the end of the half, but Casillas was up to the challenge. Both sides are defending well, and we can probably expect more of the same, what with each side starting two holding midfielders. Hopefully, someone will break through in the second half. Real Madrid have had more consistent pressure, and they seem to be playing a little better at the moment, but you never know. Plus, Liverpool always has Stevie G in their back pocket.
45′ Wow! Alonso makes a great tackle to take the ball away from Gago, and he fires a shot from behind the center line! Casillas is just able to make it back to his line and tip it over the crossbar. Meanwhile, the ref blows the whistle before Liverpool can take their corner, and let’s just say that they aren’t happy about that. See you in the second half!
44′ On the corner, Robben plays it short and gets it back. He fires a shot and it takes a deflection, but Reina is able to stop it. Kuyt’s cross into the box for Benayoun is knocked up for grabs again. Real are able to clear it from danger though.
43′ Robben lays it off to Ramos, who tries to play it through to the Dutchman in the box. He tries the cross from deep down the right edge, but it’s out for a corner.
42′ Riera tries his luck from distance, but it’s well off target.
41′ Heinze gives it away, but Benayoun runs into Cannavaro, and he loses that battle. Higuain gets it and makes a determined run towards the left edge of the Liverpool box and manages to elude two defenders. He tries a shot, but it’s just wide of the post.
40′ Robben with another good inside run and he easily eludes Aurelio. Mascherano and Carragher come over to help out, and Robben unleashes another hard shot, but this one is well off the mark.
39′ Robben makes a strong inside-run towards the center of the box, but Aurelio and Carragher close him down. He unleashes a powerful shot, and its off the mark.
38′ Robben is down after colliding with Arbeloa near the center circle. No cards, though, as it looked inadvertent.
37′ Marcelo makes a nice move on the left edge of the box and he manages to elude Arbeloa. He fires a shot on goal, and it’s a lot closer than you would think as it creeps just wide of the far post.
36′ Robben gets smothered again the minute he touches the ball. Well, looks like Liverpool’s decided that they’re going to try and neutralize him.
34′ Kuyt’s cross is knocked up into the air inside the Real box, and this is always trouble for the defense. It falls to Benayoun, but he can’t get his angle right and his shot is wide of the far post.
32′ Liverpool win a free kick after Pepe hits Torres with a judo trip from about 40 yards out. Aurelio sends it in, but Alonso is called for the foul.
30′ On the corner, Higuain puts it in the net, but he’s ruled offside. Replay shows that he was clearly offside as Liverpool’s decision not to put anyone at the posts allowed them to trap Higuain behind their line.
29′ Real win a corner after Carragher knocks out a long cross meant for Raul out for a corner.
28′ Ramos makes a strong run towards the Liverpool box, and he shrugs off Mascherano’s tackle. He sends a cross into the box for Raul, but his header is weak and easily taken by Reina.
27′ Riera tries a cross from the left wing, but it’s easily taken by Casillas.
26′ Robben gets it from Higuain deep down the right wing, but Aurelio and Mascherano are there to close him down. Liverpool break and Benayoun makes a great run towards the box. He tries to send a cross to Torres at the far post, but it’s past him and out for a Real throw.
24′ Torres is back on the pitch and it looks like he tweaked his ankle.
23′ Long ball into the Real Madrid box and Benayoun gets behind the Real backline. Casillas comes out and he gets enough of it to knock it away. Shaky defending from Real so far.
22′ Real Madrid win another corner and Heinze fires one from distance, but it’s off target. Meanwhile, Liverpool fans are holding their breath as Torres limps to the sideline. Don’t you wish you still had Robbie Keane, Rafa?
21′ Another chance for Torres as the goal kick manages to elude everyone else and he’s in past the defenders. Pepe tries to close him down, but Torres gets his shot off. Casillas makes a great save, though, and it’s out for a corner. On the corner, Liverpool knock it around and Alonso tries to cross it from the right flank to the far post for Torres, but Casillas easily cuts it out.
19′ Giveaway from Real and Torres has it inside the box. Pepe stands tall, though, and he makes an excellent tackle to take it away. Great defending there!
18′ Higuain makes some fancy moves to get away from Carragher. He tries to thread it through to Robben, but he gets stopped by Skrtel and Mascherano (who seems to be playing especially deep today).
16′ Nice shot from Marcelo from the left side of the box, and it’s just wide of the far post. Meanwhile, Chelsea are up on Juventus on a goal from Drogba. What a difference one manager can make!
15′ Heinze’s cross to Robben is deflected out for a corner. Robben sends the corner towards the near post, but it’s cleared away by Liverpool.
14′ Sloppy pass from Riera and Higuain gets it on the edge of the box. Mascherano makes a great tackle to take it.
13′ Some nice acrobatics as Diarra does the overhead kick and it goes to Pepe who takes him up on the “Can You Top This?” challenge and hits an overhead kick of his own. It’s off the mark, though.
12′ Foul on Arbeloa on Gago and Real will have a good free kick opportunity from about 35 yards out or so. Robben is standing over it, and he sends it into the center of the box where Ramos tries to get his head on it. It’s out for a corner.
9′ Heinze sends in a long cross that Robben tries to keep in bounds but fails. Ramos steals the throw-in deep in Liverpool territory, but he’s called for a foul. Good pressure from Real so far.
8′ Gago springs Heinze down the left wing, and Benayoun is there to block his path to the goal. Heinze goes down and he wants a foul, but no call from the ref. Seemed pretty soft there, to be honest.
6′ Robben makes a great run towards the box, and he threads a great through-pass to Raul, and he’s one-on-one with the keeper. Poor finish by Raul, though, and Reina takes it easily. Robben gets it and makes a run into the box. He loses it, but takes it from Riera. Strong showing from Robben so far.
5′ Throw-in by Real deep in Liverpool territory and it’s to Higuain in the box. He tries to get his shot off, but he gets closed down well. Determined defending by Liverpool so far.
4′ Pepe and Torres clash, and Pepe is down on the pitch. He looks like he’ll be fine, though.
3′ Ramos with a low cross into the box from the right edge of the box, and it’s towards Raul. he makes a move in the box, but Carragher is there to close him down. Good defense from the Liverpool skipper.
2′ Another foul as Ramos and Riera clash. Tempers flaring already.
1′ Here we go! Roberto Rosetti is our ref. Early foul as Raul hits Alonso and gets a talking-to from the ref.
0′ Strange how these clubs haven’t met in European competition since the 1981 Final. Especially considering all the success they’ve had since then.
0′ Time for your requisite: The Chammmmpions!
0′ Here’s a quick look at some of the other action. Chelsea only make one change from the side that beat Aston Villa over the weekend as Ashley Cole will return to his spot at left-back. Juventus will start Del Piero and Amauri up front, consigning Trezeguet to the bench. Villarreal will leave Pires on the bench against Panathinaikos. Meanwhile, no Landon Donovan for Bayern. Can’t say I’m too surprised about that one.
0′ I’m watching this match on ESPN360. If you’re not sure about how to get it, then read about it here. You can also learn about other FREE ways to watch this match. For other options, I believe Setanta is showing the match. Click here to read about how to get Setanta Broadband.
0′ Either way, you’d have to suspect that Rafa wants to win this match. If nothing else than to audition for his prospective employers.
0′ The big story is that English bookies seem to believe that Rafa Benitez is going to leave Liverpool soon. So much so that they’ve stopped taking bets on whether or not Benitez will be the next Premiership manager to lose his job. Surely, they must know something, right? I mean, in these troubled times, who’s going to bet their hard-earned money on something like that unless they know something, right? If you can’t trust gamblers, then who can you trust?
0′ Should be a great battle between two of the most successful European clubs of all time! Call it what you want. The Benitez Bowl. Spanish Flavor. The Steve McManaman Derby. Either way, you have two of the winningest clubs in this competition doing battle for the right to continue to the next round. Can’t wait!
0′ Hello everyone and welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the UEFA Champions League tie between Liverpool and Real Madrid! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger today!
Not a great showing by either team, but in the end, Liverpool do just enough to win this match and set themselves up beautifully for the reverse fixture in two weeks. Liverpool didn’t do much going forward, and seemed content to sit back for most of the match. Indeed, Mascherano spent more time helping out the back four that he may as well have been a fifth defender. It’s a big victory, to be sure, but one that could be Pyrrhic if Torres is hurt. They’ve been waiting to get Gerrard back, and not that’s okay, it would really hurt them to lose Torres. Especially if they want to keep their slim Premiership title hopes alive.
As for Real Madrid, they seemed incapable of generating chances on goal, and it cost them dearly. Juande Ramos certainly didn’t do himself any favors tonight as I’m sure those Rafa Benitez rumors will reach a fever pitch over the next few days. Real Madrid showed almost no creativity going forward and, other than Arjen Robben, most of their playmakers seemed out of sync. They’ll have a lot to do if they want to salvage their European hopes.
Man of the Match:
Not much to choose from, as neither side really deserved to win this match. Carragher had a great defensive game, though, and did a wonderful job neutralizing Raul and Higuain whenever they got into his area. He also did an excellent job helping out whenever Robben made one of his runs down the flank. Alonso also had a good game, as did Mascherano, as they outplayed their counterparts in the Real midfield. For Real, the only player who really showed up was Robben, who was their only consistent threat (although Casillas played well and wasn’t at fault for the goal). Liverpool did a great job closing Robben off whenever he got the ball, but Robben still made a great showing for himself. Too bad his teammates didn’t answer the bell.