Gerrard and Torres celebrate at Anfield. (Photo: AFP)
were top class
Fernando Torres last night hailed
Liverpool’s famous rout of Real Madrid as a tactical triumph
for manager Rafael Benitez.
And the Liverpool striker believes that the Spanish coach
can repeat his Champions League success when he goes head to
head against Alex Ferguson in the Premier League at Old
Trafford on Saturday.
Ferguson is the most decorated coach in domestic football
history, but Benitez has few peers in European football in
Despite his Champions League record with Liverpool and his
UEFA Cup success at Valencia, however, Benitez was
criticised by the Spanish press in the build-up to
Wednesday’s Knock-out round second leg with Real Madrid.
They claimed the Reds boss produced functional football
teams, but Liverpool ravaged Real’s reputation with a
compelling display of attacking football which handed out
Madrid’s biggest European defeat for 20 years.
Torres explained that the Spanish coach sent out his team
“I think we prepared the game better than them,” he
“The boss was brilliant in explaining how to play against
“The plan before the game was to play with intensity and
with a high-tempo.
“Spanish football has quality but it is slower, so we knew
it would be difficult for them if we played with intensity.
“I am very proud. I am proud at the performance of the team
and the performance of the fans. We knew the atmosphere
would be amazing but it was even better than we thought.
“This was a big night for Liverpool and for English football
“We showed Real Madrid that this is Anfield and that
Liverpool can win against any team here.
“It was a fantastic performance.
“After the first goal they knew it would be difficult
because they had to score two. The penalty finished the
Liverpool came flying out of the traps and were two goals up
inside 27 minutes and the tie effectively ended.
Torres and skipper Steven Gerrard combined to establish a
tie-ending two-goal lead and Torres added: “Stevie made me
the happiest player in the world on the night and got some
more goals – I think he is the Champions League’s top scorer
“We want to stop our injuries now for Liverpool and for us.
“We have to wait for the draw, but we have confidence now
for the Champions League, and also for Saturday against
With Liverpool enjoying a 24-hour advantage over United in
preparation time for Saturday’s Old Trafford showdown –
Torres believes the Reds can repeat their performance levels
against the title rivals.
“That is a massive game,” he added. “I hope to win that and
have more chances in the league. We know it’s very important
to win there – if not they will be many points ahead.”
On his own fitness, Torres added: “I feel good. My ankle
felt a little bit painful in the second half but that
doesn’t matter in a match like this.
“We will work hard from Wednesday morning and I think I will
be 100 per cent for Saturday.”
Torres was pictured after the match with his ankle heavily
iced and strapped, but the measure was purely precautionary
and he is set to take his place at Old Trafford.
Reds fear no one, insists Kuyt
By Richard Buxton - Shanklygates
Dirk Kuyt believes that Liverpool can beat
anyone in Europe in the wake of last night's 4-0 defeat of
The result, which was Real's worst in the competition for
over 20 years, was a statement of intent and Kuyt sees no
reason why the Reds cannot win the Champions League.
"We have won the Champions League before - hopefully we can
do it again," he told Liverpoolfc.tv
"We went out to attack them, to score early and get the
crowd behind us - the gameplan worked," the 28-year-old
"It was a great performance and a great result, and we're
very happy to be in the next round.
"I don't know whether or not it's the best we've played
since I've been here, but if you beat Real Madrid 5-0
overall it's great and hopefully it will prove to be one of
our biggest results.
"It could have been more. Casillas played very well and made
a few good saves. To be honest though, I'm happy with 4-0!"
Speaking of international team mate Ryan Babel's
introduction to the game, Kuyt said: "He had a great
performance and put in a great assist for Stevie. He was
also involved in Dossena's goal. He's worked really hard
over the past couple of weeks, so deserves all the credit
he's going to get."
A trip to Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime now beckons for
the Reds and the Dutchman believes that the win against Real
has given the side more confidence.
"This was a great result and performance in the Champions
League, but it's also great going into our next game on
Saturday," he said. "It gives us confidence and we're really
looking forward to the weekend now.
"United are playing very well - they've had some great
results. But we'll see what we can do on Saturday."
question time for Rafa
Comment byToby Davis - Setanta Sports
Rafa Benitez does not need a pat on the
back for Liverpool’s Champions League mauling of Madrid, but
a good, hard shake.
For if ever a result prompted further questions it was The
Reds’ 4-0 demolition of Europe’s footballing aristocrats.
The Liverpool manager is undoubtedly a pragmatic man and not
one to be swept up in jubilant celebrations when the
situation calls for cold, hard calculation.
So while the masses packed into Anfield to witness the
destruction of Madrid took the party from the Kop and into
the pubs around Liverpool, the Spaniard was hopefully
contemplating an intriguing puzzle.
What do Stoke, West Ham, Fulham and Hull have that the
mighty Real Madrid lack?
This is not such a facetious question when you consider that
Benitez’s side have seen their title challenge effectively
disappear with a series of lifeless displays against Premier
League also-rans, but managed to pummel one of Europe’s
giants to within an inch of their footballing life.
The Liverpool manager has contributed more than his fair
share to the annals of the club’s history with some glorious
European nights, but Tuesday’s demolition of Madrid was
almost worth a chapter in its own right.
It would be all too easy to dismiss the Spanish side as a
spent force and question their commitment after Liverpool
took the lead.
But let’s put the result in context. This was their greatest
ever defeat in this competition and if it were not for the
brilliance of keeper Iker Casillas, Liverpool could
conceivably have been approaching double figures.
So it is certainly not churlish to wonder out loud how the
side that put Madrid to the sword can stumble against sides,
some of whom could be plying their trade in The Championship
Liverpool’s principle weapons on Tuesday were the rampant
Steven Gerrard and the returning Fernando Torres. On last
night’s evidence, Madrid, who struggled to create a chance
of note before the tie was dead and buried, can only dream
of that sort of firepower.
All too often this season, The Reds have been deprived of
their attacking duo and no matter how strong your squad,
those two are simply irreplaceable.
But to put Liverpool’s failings in The Premier League down
to injury and absence would be to paper over some cavernous
After all, both Torres and Gerrard were on the pitch when
The Reds failed to take maximum points from home games
against Stoke and Wigan.
So while it would take a brave man to bet against Benitez
reclaiming the Champions League title he won in 2005, last
night’s display simply gives rise to more questions about
the club’s failings on the domestic scene.
The Reds manager has a clinical approach to his trade that
would be the envy of most scientists.
He treats his squad like a machine with many settings that
can be manipulated to suit any occasion.
This is not a weakness, as many suggest, but a phenomenal
asset. Benitez does not tinker, he crafts a side capable of
combating the strengths of opponents.
But the daily grind of The Premier League, perhaps does not
require this sort of attention. Benitez’s strengths
undoubtedly lie in Europe where his tactical nous comes into
his own, but does he have the tools to motivate his players
when the enormity of the situation does not do the work for
Does he have these bare essentials to get every ounce out of
every player when lesser sides arrive at Anfield?
Nobody should undermine Benitez’s achievements and those few
Liverpool fans who habitually call for his head for failing
to deliver on the domestic scene would do well to remember
where they were before he arrived. There were no glorious
Champions League victories under Gerard Houllier.
But if the Liverpool manager has aspirations of claiming the
trophy he craves, he would do well to ask himself what
Stoke, West Ham, Fulham and Hull have that the mighty Real
Madrid do not? Because the answer holds the key to Liverpool
celebrating their first league title in nearly 20 years.
Real Madrid - your boys took a hell
of a beating from Liverpool FC
Comment by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Alfredo di Stefano, Luis Figo, Zinedine
Zidane, David Beckham – can you hear me?
Your boys took one hell of a beating.
One of the most glittering of European reputations was laid
to waste at an energised Anfield.
Real Madrid weren’t just ejected from the Champions League,
they were grabbed by the collar and the belt and launched
ignominiously through the Anfield exit door, with Fernando
Torres’ size nines up their rear end.
Liverpool were excellent, Real Madrid rubbish – prompting
the second most popular question of the night, after ‘how
bad were they?’
Reds fans wanted to know: ‘How can a team which performed
with such passion, such tempo and such bristling aggression,
have produced so many insipid home performances in the
Premier League this season?’
The answer lay all around.
Everyone was up for this one. You knew a good night beckoned
when the visiting directors, the England national coach, the
president of UEFA and the FA’s recently deposed chief
executive all sat – eyes right – staring in admiration at
the Kop as it went through its pre-match repertoire.
And Real, their fans and the match officials were all
Steven Gerrard set the scene in his programme notes.
“Real Madrid will fancy themselves to score here – but they
haven’t played at Anfield,” he declared.
“Teams don’t know what hits them when they walk out of the
tunnel, and when we blast out the traps with a high tempo
and fire in our bellies, opponents can struggle to cope.
“Guys like Cannavaro, Robben and Diarra have played here and
they can try and explain to their team-mates what it is
they’ll face when they walk out of the tunnel tonight.
“But until you experience it for yourself, as they will
tonight, you can’t prepare for it.
It does have an effect on teams. Hopefully it does its stuff
It did. Liverpool started with a passion and a pace which
And while the noise undeniably influenced a weak Belgian
referee into a couple of decisive home town decisions,
no-one could argue that Liverpool weren’t richly deserving
Leading the charge was Fernando Torres.
The white of Madrid’s shirts was the equivalent of a red rag
waved in the middle of the Plaza de Toros to Liverpool’s
He was outstanding.
The third minute turn which exposed former World Player of
the Year Fabio Cannavaro was sublime.
But it wasn’t just his stylish front-running which was so
In a perfect advert for defending from the front he sprinted
back to pick the pocket of Sergio Ramos as Liverpool pressed
with an energy and an enthusiasm which was infectious.
Steven Gerrard’s classy finish which settled the tie just a
minute after half-time deservedly drew admiring comments.
But it was Javier Mascherano’s prickly pressing which nicked
back possession in the build-up to the goal which was just
Only a display from Iker Cassilas which underlined why Pepe
Reina has won so few Spanish caps prevented a Liverpool
landslide – although a 4-0 scoreline was convincing enough.
Even the English press was more direct afterwards. The
Spanish media were surprisingly sanguine about their side’s
performance, but the Guardian’s Andy Hunter – once of this
parish – launched an exocet at Juande Ramos.
“Are you embarrassed by that performance?” he declared.
Surprisingly, he wasn’t.
Perhaps he accepted that on a night when Anfield has the bit
between its teeth, like last night, few teams can survive.
On a near perfect night for the Reds, supporters were
delighted to see local lad Jay Spearing step off the
substitutes’ bench to make the most glamorous of home
And the youngster rewarded them with a bright and purposeful
cameo – marred only when the Kop realised it was Andrea
Dossena who had supplied the fourth goal flourish, not the
That 87th minute strike established an accurate reflection
of Liverpool’s dominance.
Now Anfield will hope and pray that those same players can
maintain that level of passion, that energy and that verve
at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Champions League may still offer Liverpool’s most
realistic avenue to glory this season, but a little domestic
reminder to Manchester United wouldn’t go amiss.
Liverpool 4 Real Madrid 0 is now history – a stirring slice
of Anfield folklore, but history nonetheless.
Now it’s time to start adding to the domestic history books
– starting at Old Trafford on Saturday lunch-time.
Rampant Reds made all
Liverpool FC fans proud!
Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
Oh what a night! And today Real Madrid can
count themselves lucky it was not six or seven they conceded
to a magnificent, rampant Liverpol side.
I’ve been crying out all season for us to get at sides from
the start and that’s just what we did last night. We could
have been four up inside 20 minutes as the lads closed down,
harassed and frankly bullied Real Madrid.
I thought we might start cagily after leading from the first
leg but not a bit of it. What a fantastic surprise it was to
see Rafa Benitez send his side out to just demolish the
opposition from the word go.
As soon as I saw the team sheet I thought there was no way
we should let it slip. All the big guns were out there all
the names the supporters want to see.
And there were top performers all over the pitch, from
Torres and Gerrard to Mascherano and Alonso in midfield and
every member of the back four. They turned in the best
Liverpool display for a very long time.
I heard about that Spanish newspaper saying ‘So What’ about
Anfield. Well they sure got their answer last night and must
be feeling pretty stupid today. You just don’t wind up a
club like Liverpool and expect to get away with it.
In particular I was so pleased for our brilliant fans last
night. They have seen their club battered by off-field
controversies for too long now but last night the Kop was in
rip-roaring form as expected.
What a great night too for homegrown youngster Jay Spearing.
He have been pinching himself when he replaced Steven
Gerrard with us 3-0 up.
Madrid may have been poor, but the Reds were just terrific
on a historic night which put a smile back on the face of
everyone who loves this great club.
If last night’s mighty win doesn’t give us a huge confidence
boost ahead of the game at Manchester United, then nothing
Rafa Benitez and his players must take great heart from a
performance like that and while we all know it will be
difficult at Old Trafford, last night proves that when we
play with passion and belief from first whistle, anything is
That result last night – 5-0 on agrregate against Real
Madrid – will have sent a massive signal to every side in
Rafa Benitez is a master of European football, but has yet
to really translate it onto the domestic stage.
However if he and his players – they all deserve a big pat
on the back today – can produce something similar on
Saturday and get that win, then this title race might not
quite be over after all.
We’ve beaten United and Chelsea already this season and last
night Liverpool added Real Madrid’s name to other big scalps
in recent seasons including Barcelona, Inter Milan and
That’s why we are now well ahead at the top of UEFA’s
European rankings – and why no one will want to face us in
the last eight of the Champions League.
Let’s just hope we pick up on Saturday where we left off
* My old teammate John Toshack was on TV saying how
disappointed he was in Real and how poor they were. They
were – but that side is second in La Liga and has suffered
only two defeats in their last 13 games – both to Liverpool.
I almost picked up the phone to ring in and remind Tosh of
just too good
Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos was
deflated by last night’s crushing Anfield defeat.
The former Spurs boss admitted that the ‘best team won’
following a 4-0 hammering.
Ramos said: “We are very disappointed and it is sad that we
are out and we are obviously not happy with the result.
“We conceded two early goals, and I had my doubts about
both. There looked to be a foul for the first and the
penalty was not clear at all.
“But Liverpool were excellent and deserved to go through.
They were too good on the night and there is no point in
denying that, they deserved it.
“We tried all we could, but the way the goals came so early,
it made the game complicated as soon as we went two behind.”
And the former Spurs chief added: “We can still win the
Spanish title, even after this, they are two totally
“We will carry on with every hope of catching Barcelona in
the league and we will be trying very hard in what is left
of the season.
“As for this tie, the fact that Liverpool went ahead early
made it very difficult. Liverpool were just better on the
Raul says sorry
for 'painful' defeat
ITV - Football
Real Madrid captain Raul apologised to his
side's fans following Tuesday night's Champions League exit
at the hands of Liverpool, describing the 4-0 Anfield
mauling as his "most painful" defeat in the competition.
Raul was little more than a helpless bystander as Liverpool
swept aside nine-time winners Madrid in comprehensive
fashion thanks to two goals from captain Steven Gerrard,
another from former Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres
and a late fourth from substitute Andrea Dossena.
That four-goal demolition completed a 5-0 aggregate victory
for Rafael Benitez's men and meant Madrid failed to get
beyond the last 16 stage for the fifth successive year. Raul
said: "They (Liverpool) were better in every respect."
He added: "Once again we are out of the Champions League.
"We had high hopes for the match, but all that remains is to
congratulate Liverpool because they've shown themselves to
be a better team. There are no excuses.
"I want to think the fans for supporting us and apologise to
them. The defeat is my most painful in the Champions League,
a 4-0 loss hurts."
With Madrid now out of both the Champions League and Copa
del Rey, the only piece of silverware still available for
Juande Ramos' men is the Primera Liga.
Madrid are currently six points behind leaders Barcelona in
the standings and this weekend must travel to Copa del Rey
finalists Athletic Bilbao.
Raul said in Marca: "We must lift ourselves because there is
still the league and we cannot give up on that.
"The next few days are not going to be easy, but we need to
be calm because on Saturday we have an important game and we
must raise our morale."
Torres: Why I am so proud
By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website
Fernando Torres spoke of his pride after
Liverpool steamrollered Real Madrid - and labelled the 4-0
victory a 'big night for English football'.
El Nino opened the scoring as nine-times champions Real
suffered their record European defeat in front of a raucous
In an exclusive interview with Liverpoolfc.tv after the
game, the striker said: "I am very proud. I am proud at the
performance of the team and the performance of the fans. We
knew the atmosphere would be amazing but it was even better
than we thought.
"This was a big night for Liverpool and for English football
"We showed Real Madrid that this is Anfield and that
Liverpool can win against any team here.
"It was a fantastic performance. After the first goal they
knew it would be difficult because they had to score two.
The penalty finished the game."
A Steven Gerrard brace and Andrea Dossena's first goal for
Liverpool took the aggregate score to 5-0 following a 1-0
win in the Bernabeu two weeks ago.
Torres believes the tie was a tactical triumph.
"The plan before the game was to play with intensity and
with a high-tempo," said the 24-year-old, who spent 12 years
with Atletico Madrid.
"Spanish football has quality but it is slower, so we knew
it would be difficult for them if we played with intensity.
"I think we prepared the game better than them. The boss was
brilliant in explaining how to play against them."
The game saw Torres return from an ankle injury sustained in
the first leg, and he wasted no time renewing his prolific
partnership with Gerrard, who is now the Champions League's
joint top goalscorer - alongside Miroslav Klose - with
"Stevie made me the happiest player in the world on the
night and got some more goals - I think he is the Champions
League's top scorer now," said the Spain international.
"We want to stop our injuries now for Liverpool and for us."
The pair might have had more but for Real goalkeeper Iker
Casillas - the man who keeps Pepe Reina out of the Spain
Torres said: "They have a fantastic 'keeper - one of the
best in the world. Every time I play against him he is
brilliant. The best Real Madrid player on the night was
Liverpool now travel to Manchester United on Saturday before
discovering their Champions League quarter-final fate next
"We have to wait for the draw, but we have confidence now
for the Champions League, and also for Saturday against
United," added Torres.
"That is a massive game. I hope to win that and have more
chances in the league. We know it's very important to win
there - if not they will be many points ahead."
On his own fitness, the number nine said: "I feel good. My
ankle felt a little bit painful in the second half but that
doesn't matter in a match like this. We will work hard from
Wednesday morning and I think I will be 100 per cent for
hails great night
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has
hailed a great night after Real Madrid left Anfield with
only a 4-0 thumping for their efforts.
Heading into the game already leading on aggregate courtesy
of a 1-0 win in the Bernabeu a fortnight ago, many
anticipated a cautious approach from Rafa Benitez's side.
On the contrary, Liverpool tore into their Spanish
counterparts from the start and were it not for the
excellence of Iker Casillas in Madrid's goal the Spanish
giants could have been embarrassed further.
Carragher admits Liverpool's bid to win the UEFA Champions
League is still in its infancy but regaining the crown they
last held in 2005 is clearly in his thinking.
"It's been a great night," he told Sky Sports News.
"Obviously it's still early doors in the Champions League
and we want to go on and do as well as we can and that means
"But it's obviously a great night to look back on, beating
Real Madrid, the most famous name in European football, 5-0
While Liverpool's display was hugely impressive Madrid were
positively insipid in comparison.
One of their better performers on the night was former
Arsenal, Chelsea and Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra,
who at least showed an appetite for the battle that some of
his team-mates lacked.
Diarra was in confident mood in declaring his conviction
pre-match that Madrid would progress but at the final
whistle was willing to accept Real were thoroughly outplayed
on the night.
"Against Liverpool if we lose 2-0 to them in the first 15
minutes it is very difficult," he lamented.
"Tonight Liverpool beat us 4-0. We have to accept that and
get back to work.
When asked if Liverpool would go on to win the trophy he
said: "I don't know.
They have experience; they won it a few years ago.
"I think in the last four seasons they have reached the
"They are a very good team, with a very good manager.
"I just want to say congratulations to them and wish them
luck in the future."
Rafa reflects on
By Joe Curran - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez put Liverpool's demolition of
Real Madrid down to a "fantastic all-round team performance"
after they coasted into the Champions League last eight via
a breathtaking 5-0 aggregate victory.
Fernando Torres opened the scoring from close range on 16
minutes before Steven Gerrard scored from the penalty spot
on 27 minutes.
The Reds captain completed his brace with a blistering
strike at the Kop end just after the restart and Andrea
Dossena added a fourth with a fine strike minutes before the
Speaking to reporters after the game, the Reds boss admitted
the special Anfield atmosphere helped his team to such an
emphatic victory but insisted his players and staff deserved
credit for the historic result.
"We did really well and kept on playing right up until the
end," said Benitez. "I am pleased for everyone - for the
players, the fans and the club as a whole.
"The team had a lot of confidence and approached the game in
the right way. I think the atmosphere helped us a lot as
well so there are many positives, it was a fantastic
"Fernando and Stevie played very well, but I don't like to
talk too much about just one player. The whole team - every
player and all the staff, from the doctors and the coaches
to the physios - everyone was very good. I thought we did
very well for the fans.
"I think this result will do us a lot of good, the result
pleased me a lot."
Liverpool dominated the match from start to finish and
Benitez revealed it was his plan to surprise the Spanish
giants with a storming performance out of the traps.
"They were expecting us to play very deep and on the counter
attack," said the Reds boss.
"But we played a different game and tried to put them under
pressure from the beginning. Then we were on top of them and
I think we could have scored more.
"We knew this game would be very tight and very difficult.
We showed that we can play in different ways, it showed we
are a very good team."
But with a lunchtime clash with Premier League leaders
Manchester United next up on Saturday, Benitez insisted he
won't be allowing his players to bask in their glory for
long and revealed the Real result could be just what they
needed before that massive match.
"It is a great result, but now we have to focus on the game
with United," he added.
"When you have an important game coming up, if the players
play well and score four goals against a top side like Real
Madrid just before, then it will help us a lot in our
approach to the next game. Now have two or three days to
prepare for that and then we will see what happens at Old
Gerrard hails 'awesome' display
By Toby Davis - Setanta Sports
Steven Gerrard described Liverpool’s 4-0
demolition of Real Madrid as ‘awesome’ after The Reds ran
riot at Anfield.
The Liverpool captain bagged a brace as Rafa Benitez's side
waltzed into the quarter finals of the Champions League
while Fernando Torres and Andrea Dossena were also on the
Yossi Benayoun’s headed goal at the Bernabeu two weeks ago
meant Liverpool mauled the Spanish giants 5-0 on aggregate,
their biggest ever defeat in the competition.
"We got the job done in the first 30 minutes tonight when I
thought we were awesome," said Gerrard.
"The second half was about seeing it out and fortunately we
were able to score a couple more goals.
"We're all really pleased. It was important to win and book
our place in the last eight. It was a fantastic team
"We have to give a special mention to Yossi Benayoun
tonight. He was fantastic in the first leg and was
unfortunate to be injured for this game."
Liverpool face Manchester United in a crucial Premier League
clash at Old Trafford on Saturday and Gerrard says the
players will quickly turn their focus back to the title
"We have to enjoy tonight first," added Gerrard. "Some
players will need some treatment after picking up knocks and
we'll start concentrating on the United game tomorrow."
with Madrid demolition
By Laurent Picard - Setanta Sports
Liverpool keeper Jose Reina has expressed
his huge satisfaction following the demolition of Real
Atletico fan Reina is particularly happy to have helped The
Reds qualify for the quarter finals of the Champions League
thanks to a wonderful 4-0 victory over Los Merengues.
The Spanish goalkeeper has hailed Liverpool's fans for
bringing ‘something extra’ and declared that his team’s
spirit can help them move mountains.
Reina told reporters after the game at Anfield: “We are very
pleased with the result, happy with the atmosphere and
delighted to be qualified for the quarter finals because
that’s what we wanted.
“We knew that our fans would give us a hand. We were on top
from the very start, scored two early goals, which helped us
“Playing at Anfield is never easy [for the opponents] and we
haven’t lost for a while. The atmosphere [within the
Liverpool team] is very good and when we keep a good spirit
we are hard to beat.
“What happened is not because of Madrid but because of us.”
thrash sorry Madrid
By Toby Davis - Setanta Sports
Liverpool stormed into the quarter finals
of the Champions League with a barnstorming demolition of
Real Madrid at Anfield.
The Reds crushed their Spanish opponents 4-0 on the night,
winning 5-0 on aggregate, in a one-sided display of superb
Inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard bagged a brace with a
goal in each half after the returning Fernando Torres had
given Liverpool the lead early on.
And with the game won and Liverpool’s passage to the next
round already assured, substitute Andrea Dossena rounded off
proceedings, hammering the final nail in the Madrid coffin.
Juande Ramos' side were outclassed, out-muscled and
out-gunned by a Liverpool outfit intent on punishing their
It was one-way traffic from the first whistle and Rafa
Benitez’s troops did not lift their foot off the pedal until
they were comfortably ahead and the tie was won.
Anfield was simmering for the arrival of the European Cup’s
most decorated side, who were experiencing the tumult of the
Kop for the first time. And within seconds of the kick-off
they were hit with the full force.
Europe is where Rafa Benitez’s tactical acumen undoubtedly
comes into its own. But the controlled and calculated
performance on show two weeks’ ago at the Bernabeu went out
the window as Liverpool began at breakneck pace.
It took only three minutes for Torres to make his presence
known, with a sublime turn that hinted at the gulf in
quality between the two sides that would quickly become
The Spain striker’s ingenuity left him one-on-one with
Madrid keeper Iker Casillas who pulled off an excellent
reaction save with his feet to keep the scores level on the
Casillas is considered by many to be the best keeper in the
world and he laid a claim to the accolade barely a minute
later when he tipped a left-footed volley from Javier
Mascherano, of all people, onto the bar and over.
The visitors were visibly shell-shocked. If they had
expected Liverpool to feel their way into the game slowly,
they were very much mistaken. This was an all-out onslaught
rarely seen in Europe under Benitez’s tenure.
And on 15 minutes The Reds took a deserved lead. Torres,
looking as sharp as ever despite his injury lay-off, chested
down a long ball forward and got a toe to it ahead of Madrid
defender Pepe, stabbing it into the path of Dirk Kuyt.
The Dutchman took a touch and squared the ball back to the
Spaniard who had the simple task of putting the ball into
the empty net.
Torres then turned provider for Steven Gerrard. Another
fleet-footed spin took him away from Sergio Ramos on the
left-hand edge of the area, while his cross found the
Liverpool captain sliding in at the far post.
Gerrard managed to steer his effort back across goal but
Casillas was again on hand to deny The Reds skipper.
Liverpool deserved to lead by more than the single goal, but
the manner in which they did finally double their advantage
would have left a sour taste in Madrid mouths.
Gabrielle Heinze was once courted by Benitez, but the Madrid
full back was left fuming when he was adjudged to have
handled in the area.
Alvaro Arbeloa chested the ball towards the Argentine, who
seemed to shoulder it away only to see the linesman flagging
furiously to alert the referee to a perceived infringement.
Gerrard was in no mood to be charitable and stepped up to
thump the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards,
sending Casillas the wrong way.
The Reds’ dominance was such that Madrid were restricted to
a long-range free-kick from Wesley Sneijder that Reina
palmed around the post and a stabbed effort from Raul after
a good turn from Gonzalo Higuain.
If the Spaniards thought Liverpool were quickly out of the
blocks in the first half, they were given another lesson in
quick starts after the break.
Ryan Babel has suffered with second season syndrome, failing
to secure a place in The Reds starting line-up after
promising so much last year.
But the Dutch forward was at his dynamic best against a
Madrid side who afforded him the sort of space he thrives
He skipped down the left within a minute of the restart,
leaving Sergio Ramos in his wake, before crossing for
Gerrard to finish into the roof of the net from eight yards.
The Liverpool captain was imperious. He wasn’t floating or
drifting in the hole behind Torres, but hammering away at
the Madrid backline as he went in search of his hat-trick.
And he nearly got it less than ten minutes into the second
half. A fluid Liverpool passing move ended with Gerrard
hitting a stinging shot from the edge of the area that
Casillas was forced to parry wide.
The tie, however, was already in the bag and Liverpool were
ready to take their foot off the pedal.
The change in pace allowed Madrid to craft some chances of
their own with Raul side-footing a cross from Ramos over the
bar under pressure from Reina, while Fernando Gago had a
good opportunity to pull a goal back but again could not
keep his effort on target.
Torres had a shot brilliantly tipped round the post by
Casillas with ten minutes remaining before Dossena
rounded-off the scoring late-on.
The oft-maligned full back came off the bench to bury a
cross from the right past Casillas and into the back of the
If Madrid are considering a change of manager at the end of
the season, no doubt they will test Liverpool's resolve to
hang on to their Spanish boss. The Reds were simply a class
above a Madrid side who lacked any of the impetus their