Madrid cruise past Liverpool

Real Madrid eased to victory over Liverpool thanks to a special goal from Cristiano Ronaldo and a Karim Benzema brace.

The Premier League side started well enough but after Madrid composed themselves, their dominance was total and eventually reflected by the score line.

Benzema and Ronaldo may get the headlines for their goals but Raphael Varane and Pepe deserve plaudits too for what was on the whole a commanding defensive performance.

Ronaldo scored midway through the first half and it was a goal of true quality. The presence of four Liverpool players counted for naught as Ronaldo met James Rodriguez’s chipped pass and beat Simon Mignolet with an accurate volley.

Benzema made it two not long after as Madrid took command, his looping header from Toni Kroos’ cross leaving Mignolet stranded, and got a second before the break as Liverpool failed to cope with a corner.

Ronaldo was given a 15-minute rest with the Clasico in mind, compared to the 30 Barcelona gave to Lionel Messi and Neymar in their 3-1 win over Ajax on Tuesday.

Liverpool named former Sevilla defender Alberto Moreno among their back four with Mario Balotelli in attack, while Madrid plumped for Isco in the absence of the injured Gareth Bale.

An even start saw Madrid get into some promising positions but make little of them and Liverpool threaten with balls over the top. The pace of Raheem Sterling was a threat and Alvaro Arbeloa got away with a barge when the winger looked like getting away.

Iker Casillas fended away a dipping Steven Gerrard shot as Madrid’s defence struggled to get the ball away but it was as close as the Reds got to a goal before Ronaldo opened the scoring. Madrid had slowly built up the pressure but Ronaldo injected more pace into the play and got a goal as a result.

The second goal came as a result of Madrid regaining possession on the edge of the Liverpool penalty area. It was eventually worked to Kroos to the left of the box and he found Benzema, who found the back of the net.

Benzema got the third of the night when a corner was touched on by Raphael Varane, fell to Pepe, and the France international was able to scramble home. Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho worried Casillas before the break – the latter hitting the post – and Liverpool started similarly after the interval.

The hosts put on the pressure as Madrid looked to counter-attack but, in a similar pattern to the first half, the flurry didn’t sustain. It was Madrid who came closest to scoring, Isco and Benzema finding Ronaldo but Mignolet was alert to the danger from close range.

James fizzed a shot wide in one of Madrid’s better breaks and Luka Modric shot straight at Mignolet but Madrid’s search for a fourth goal was far from frantic. Anfield, a cauldron at kick-off, was much more silent by the end as the pocket of visiting fans celebrated a comfortable win.

Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid

Ronaldo 23, Benzema 30, 40

Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson (Can 67); Coutinho (Markovic 67), Sterling, Balotelli (Lallana 46)

Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo (Nacho 85): James, Modric, Kroos (Illarra 81), Isco; Ronaldo (Khedira 75), Benzema

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli [ITA]

Tags Cristiano Ronaldo Karim Benzema Liverpool
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