It was an epic duel at Anfield on Tuesday night as part of the Champions League round of 16. Liverpool hosted Real Madrid in the first leg of this last-16 tie, and by the 67th minute, it was already 2:5 for Real Madrid.
Liverpool was up 2:0 in the first 15 minutes with goals from Nunez and Salah, but the current European champion woke up five minutes later, and two goals from Vinicius in the 21st and 36th minutes leveled the result. Luka Modrić masterfully assisted for the Real Madrid lead at 2:3 in the 47th minute and intercepted the ball from Liverpool in Madrid’s half to launch the play that resulted in Madrid’s 5th and final goal, scored by Karim Benzema.
Modrić’s world-class performance lasted until the 87th minute when he was subbed off for Toni Kroos. The 37-year-old Croat received a standing ovation from the whole of Anfield, proving once again that his Champions League masterclass knows no age.
Real Madrid became the first club in history to score five goals against Liverpool in a European match at Anfield.
“This is how Real Madrid wins,” wrote Luka Modrić on Twitter and Instagram after Real Madrid’s fantastic performance. The Croatia captain also received praise from all sides for his outstanding play.
“It was the usual Modrić, the best one can see, constant, in rhythm, with good control of the ball. I think he was key in the moments when we had difficulties,” said coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“These are tournaments for players like Modric, Kroos, and Karim, where experience makes the difference. When you’re down 2:0, the experience of these players is key to helping the younger players stay focused,” added the Italian expert.
Spanish sports daily Marca was also full of praise.
“He is a leader and life insurance on big nights. It’s crazy to rule Anfield at 37.”
“The fact that Liverpool fans applauded Luka and Karim only proves that people here know how to appreciate these guys who play great,” said Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The 37-year-old Croatia captain wants to end his career at Real Madrid, and according to Ancelotti, he deserves a contract extension, which expires on June 30.
“Modrić has a career in which he has shown it and shows that he deserves it. He didn’t do well in January but returned to his best level and will continue to grow. I am sure of this because he is physically excellent and also wants to play for Real Madrid,” Ancelotti said.
Modrić said at the same press conference that he wants to earn a new contract and not be given or offered one because of past merits and achievements. However, the club and the player still haven’t discussed his contract renewal.
The Croatia national team captain won 22 trophies with Real Madrid, and this season made 31 appearances for the club. Real Madrid is defending the Champions League title this season.
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