Vinicius Junior scored twice as Real Madrid made Liverpool pay for more defensive errors on Tuesday, a 3-1 victory putting them in sight of the Champions League semi-finals.
Vinicius and Marco Asensio both profited in the first half after darting behind Liverpool’s makeshift back-line before a simple move from a throw-in gave Vinicius a simple finish in the second.
Mohamed Salah’s strike shortly after the interval briefly made it a contest at Valdebebas, with an away goal certainly a significant consolation for Liverpool to take into the second leg at Anfield next week.
But without fans and with a miserable recent record at home, Jurgen Klopp will know his side have it all to do to avoid his team’s season becoming solely about scraping into the Premier League’s top four.
Except for two spells after half-time and at the finish, when their opponents were holding on to what they had, Liverpool were overpowered by Real Madrid, whose only disappointment might be missing out on a clearer margin ahead of the return in eight days’ time.
Madrid were without Sergio Ramos, who throughout was bellowing at his team from the stands, while Raphael Varane testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday morning meant both sides were fielding patched-up back fours.
Elsewhere, Phil Foden struck a 90th minute winner as Manchester City took a slender 2-1 lead from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring on 19 minutes for the runaway Premier League leaders, but Dortmund grabbed a vital away goal when Erling Haaland teed up Marco Reus to equalise six minutes from time.
Foden had missed a series of chances to double City’s lead earlier in the second-half, but made amends at the death to give Pep Guardiola’s men the advantage with the second leg to come in Germany on April 14.
City have failed to get beyond the last eight in their previous four seasons under Guardiola and once again struggled replicate their scintillating Premier League form on the European stage.
The English side were overwhelming favourites before a ball was kicked against a Dortmund side that has fallen seven points adrift of the top four in the Bundesliga.
By contrast, City men have now won 27 of their last 28 games in all competitions to remain on course for a historic quadruple of Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.
But the hosts had to ride their luck to take a narrow advantage to Germany next week.