Scoreless Draw at Liverpool Sees Real Madrid Advance to UCL Semifinals


After two consecutive round of 16 exits, Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid have made their way back to the UEFA Champions League semifinals following a scoreless draw (3-1 aggregate) at Liverpool.

Real Madrid carried a 3-1 lead into Anfield thanks in part to Vinicius Junior's double in the first leg in Madrid. In the second leg, following an attack on their team bus as it pulled into Anfield, the Spanish champions weathered an early Liverpool storm despite missing both starting center backs in Raphaël Varane and Sergio Ramos due to their respective COVID-19 quarantines. 

Just two minutes in, Mohamed Salah missed a golden chance right in front of goal that would have put all the pressure on Real. The Egyptian star had the entire goal to choose from but ended up shooting directly at Thibaut Courtois, who made the easy save. 

One minute later, Sadio Mane nearly found Roberto Firmino with a through ball at point-blank range after the Senegalese international made an impressive run down the left wing. 

Liverpool continued to push forward with plenty of energy in the first 10 minutes. James Milner's looped shot from 20 yards nearly gave the hosts the lead, but it was Courtois to the rescue once again for a lethargic Real side with a leaping save. With two near misses, Liverpool has attempted more shots on target in the opening 11 minutes than it did in the entire first leg.

Real waited until the 20th minute to join in on the action as Karim Benzema hit the post when his cut-back effort deflected off a Liverpool defender and went into the woodwork. 

Tensions started to flare in the 24th minute when Casemiro barreled into James Milner with a late sliding tackle right in front of an incensed Jürgen Klopp. The yellow card for the Brazilian international followed up his red card in El Clásico over the weekend. 

Liverpool had another great build-up in the 41st minute as Gini Wijnaldum made a brilliant turn in midfield to spark the counter-attack. The ball eventually fell to Salah, whose chance soared over the bar. Wijnaldum skied a wide open effort in front of goal just a minute later as Liverpool couldn't convert yet another chance in front of goal.

Firmino opened the second half with a handful of chances in front of goal but nothing fell for the Brazilian as Real continued to pack the box with defenders.

Alisson kept Liverpool's hopes alive in the 66th minute when he denied a chance to Vinicius Junior before reacting quickly to stop Karim Benzema's follow-through effort. 

Benzema had another chance in the 80th as Liverpool was caught out at the back once again, but the Frenchman's header bounced up and over the bar. Liverpool had a late chance in stoppage time as Salah tried to cut back a chance to Diogo Jota, but Courtois proved his worth once again. 

Here were the lineups for both teams:

Real Madrid will face Chelsea in the semifinals, with the Blues having outlasted Porto in the quarterfinals on a 2-1 aggregate.

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