Liverpool were given a painful footballing lesson in how far the Champions League has since moved on in their absence as they were completely outclassed by holders Real Madrid at Anfield.
Cristiano Ronaldo led Real’s charge with a superb opener after 23 minutes with a half volley and Karim Benzema added two before the interval to leave the hosts facing a desperate exercise of damage limitation in front of their own fans.
It was the first time Liverpool had been three down at half-time at Anfield in their long and glorious European history – a fact no doubt noted by Real coach Carlo Ancelotti, who was in charge of AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005 when the Reds claimed the Champions League after facing a similar heavy deficit at the interval.
This time there was no repeat of the comeback as Mario Balotelli’s performance was yet again disappointing and left a lot of question marks over Liverpool’s decision to pay £16m for a striker who simply does not deliver when it matters.
He was substituted after 45 minutes and the sight of him swapping shirts with Real defender Pepe as the teams went off at half-time, left many fans and coach Brendan Rodgers angered as Liverpool have now only collected three points from as many games played and their chances of making it to the next stage slimmer.
To show Real’s complete domination of the game, the final phase of the game was such a procession, that coach Ancelotti felt secure enough to remove Ronaldo who has now scored 70 Champions League goals after 75 minutes to protect him for this weekend’s ‘El Clasico’ with Barcelona.
Meanwhile Arsene Wenger celebrated his 65th birthday with a vital Champions League win as Arsenal scored twice in the final two minutes to beat Anderlecht.
After a dire first half, the Belgian champions looked set to ruin Wenger’s day when Honduras winger Andy Najar headed in Dennis Praet’s cross.
Arsenals blushes were saved when left-back Kieran Gibbs’s volley at the far post brought the Gunners level.
And Lukas Podolski a subject of serious transfer speculation, smashed in the winner from close range as Arsenal maintained their grip on second place on six points after 3 games.
Wed 22 Oct 2014 – Champions League
- Atl Madrid5 – 0Malmö FFFT
- Olympiakos1 – 0JuventusFT
- Liverpool0 – 3Real MadridFT
- Ludo Razgd1 – 0FC BaselFT
- Bayer Levkn2 – 0Zenit St PFT
- Monaco0 – 0BenficaFT
- Galatasaray0 – 4Bor DortmdFT
- Anderlecht1 – 2ArsenalFT
Tue 21 Oct 2014 – Champions League