Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool

Liverpool put themselves in a strong position to overcome Real Madrid in the Champions League by beating the Spaniards with a professional display.
Yossi Benayoun struck the Reds winner when he headed in a Fabio Aurelio free-kick from eight yards.
Real had been poor and Arjen Robben had their best chance when his shot was steered over by keeper Pepe Reina.
Liverpool had barely given Real a sight of their goal and comfortably closed out the first leg last-16 tie.
The Champions League has always brought out the best of Liverpool under manager Rafael Benitez, who tactical expertise has flourished in the competition, and this was no different.
Benitez has made an exact science out of defensive durability, frustrating the opposition and punishing teams on the counter-attack and the formula worked to perfection once again.
Real struggled to break through the discipline of Liverpool and, despite Raul's early swivel and shot being saved, the Reds were comfortable from the start.
They were holding the home side at arm's length and could then have taken the lead when they twice caught Real's defence napping with two long balls forward.
Fernando Torres was the first to race through on goal but his angled shot from the right was excellently palmed wide by keeper Iker Cassilas.
A similar ball almost let Benayoun in but Casillas was more alert than his defence and came to the edge of the area to block as the Reds midfielder tried to chip him.
Liverpool were given a scare when keeper Pepe Reina saved a Sergio Ramos header but Gonzalo Higuain put in the rebound.
The effort was rightly disallowed for offside and, other than that, Real were being limited to speculative long range shots.
However, Alonso had the most audacious of shots when his audacious strike from his own half was tipped over by Casillas.
Real were being nullified by Liverpool and Guti came on after the break to add some guile to their sloppy play.
It did little to help the Spanish club and there was the distinct sense that Liverpool could engineer an away goal as they looked the more likely to score.
The threat was not materialising into clearcut chances and the visitors were not helped when Torres went off with a niggling ankle injury.
Real finally showed a glimpse of the danger they pose when a swift counter-attack ended with a swerving Robben shot somehow being steered over from Reina.
But the Reds finally breached the Real defence when Benanyoun struck after former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze gave away a free-kick.

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