Real Madrid claimed a 3-1 first-leg victory over Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday evening.
Raphael Varane was an obvious absentee for Madrid after he tested positive for Covid-19 while captain Sergio Ramos injured, as Liverpool recalled Georginio Wijnaldum and Naby Keita.
Liverpool were put under early pressure when Karim Benzema fashioned a left-footed shot across the edge of the area, but goalkeeper Alisson Becker gathered.
Another promising opportunity had the Reds under fire a little later after a looping header from Vinicius Junior following a cross by Ferland Mendy flew off target.
Vinicius made amends in emphatic fashion two minutes to the half-hour mark when he brought down a ball over the top from Toni Kroos to fire beyond the reach of Alisson.
It was two for the tournament record holders nine minutes before halftime after Marco Asensio intercepted a poor header from Trent Alexander-Arnold to lob the on-rushing Alisson.
An injury inside 42 minutes required the sixth-time European champions to remove Keita and introduce Thiago Alcantara from the bench.
Liverpool emerged strongly for the second half and halved the tally through a close-range finish from Mohamed Salah six minutes in, with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ruling out any offside.
However, Los Blancos restored their two-goal advantage on 65 minutes when Vinicius notched his brace with a first-time finish through a grasping Alisson who managed to get a touch.
This laid the marker for fresh faces from the dugout inside five minutes with Asensio recalled in favour of Federico Valverde.
Real saw more openings as the contest entered the closing minutes, but in the end settled for a 3-1 victory ahead of next Wednesday’s return-leg at Anfield.
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