Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool (6-2 ag): Karim Benzema secures Reds’ Champions League exit with a whimper
Although there remained a very slim chance that the visitors could stage the kind of stunning comeback for which they have become European royalty until Benzema’s strike 12 minutes from time, it was only thanks to Alisson Becker rather than at Klopp’s front line.
The Brazilian pulled off stunning saves to prevent both Eduardo Camavinga and Vinicius Jr in the first half from keeping the remote notion of a turnover a remote possibility.
Klopp’s time at Liverpool has been as much one of relentless intensity as it is quality on the pitch. It has been the great intangible of his tenure but, as has so often been the case this season, that fire has long since been extinguished to its lowest ember.
A four-man forward line of Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo was an ambitious setup, but only in theory. Rarely did one threaten, although more quality in the final third from Salah would have freed Nunez for a clean run on goal shortly after the interval.
Liverpool just didn’t seem to believe a comeback was possible and, in the 78e minute, Benzema proved them right. The tall French striker stepped in from close range after a simple pass from Luka Modric split the Reds in two, causing chaos in the backline which hardly needed to be invited down.
Ibrahima Konate couldn’t clear the lines, allowing Benzema the easiest goal against what turns out to be Madrid’s easiest opponents.