Vinicius Junior’s Double Inspires Real Madrid To Victory
Two goals from Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior inspired Real Madrid to a 3-1 victory against Liverpool in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain.
The Spanish champions were without captain Sergio Ramos and defender Rafael Varane, who tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the game. Liverpool were also without defenders Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.
Madrid dominated in the early stages of the game as Liverpool struggled to find rhythm. In the 27th minute, Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos passed a beautiful ball from deep to find Vinicius Junior, who chested the ball before calmly placing the ball past Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker to give the hosts the lead.
Liverpool’s night got even worse when right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold’s poor header gifted Real Madrid the second goal.
The English defender headed a long pass from Kroos straight into the path of Marco Asensio, who lifted the ball over Alisson before tapping into an empty net to extend Madrid’s lead.
The Premier League champions were stunned and Klopp reacted just before half-time, bringing on Thiago Alcantata in place of Naby Keita.
Liverpool started the second half in much better fashion and were rewarded with a precious away goal through Mohamed Salah in the 51st minute.
After Diogo Jota’s drive into the penalty area, his deflected shot fell to Salah and the Egyptian blasted the ball through the arm of Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and into the net.
The goal gave Liverpool a glimmer of hope as they continued to press the hosts. The Reds almost equalised when Sadio Mane’s attempt was blocked bravely by Madrid defender Ferland Mendy.
However, it was Vinicius who restored Madrid’s two-goal advantage in the 65th minute.
Luka Modric played the ball into the path of the Brazilian, who squeezed a shot through the legs of Liverpool defender Nat Phillips, with Alisson only able to help the ball into the corner of the net.
The game finished 3-1 to the hosts, leaving Liverpool needing another special European night in the second leg at Anfield if they are to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 6, 2021
“I am happy for Vinicius because what he is doing and what all the guys are doing is a great job, especially from a defensive point of view,” Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said in an interview after the match.
“Maybe he was missing some goalscoring with the work he is contributing to the team so to score two goals is big to provide a lot of confidence and he deserves that.”
“I don’t know if that was his best match but two goals in the quarter-finals is important for him and the team,” Zidane added.
“I am happy because of the football. At the beginning of the second half we had a bit of difficulty but at the end of the day we are happy with 3-1 as it was a huge effort. We have to enjoy what we did today.”
Liverpool will play Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday in the Premier League before the second leg next Wednesday against Real Madrid.
Real Madrid will host Barcelona in the famous El Clasico on Saturday before the second leg against Liverpool.