MADRID: Liverpool did not make a historic comeback. Real Madrid’s Champions League title defense has reached the quarterfinals.


Liverpool came nowhere near overcoming a three-goal deficit from the first leg against the titleholders at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on Wednesday, falling 1-0 to end its hopes of reaching the final for the second time.

Madrid advanced to the last eight for the third consecutive season with a 6-2 aggregate score after a 5-2 win in the first leg in England, when it rallied from two goals down early in the first half.

Liverpool was attempting to do something unprecedented in Champions League history: erase a three-goal deficit as a visitor. Only five times in Europe’s top club competition has a team that lost at home rallied in the second leg.

“You needed a special performance, and we didn’t deliver,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “In moments, it was a good performance, but Real Madrid was the team in control the whole game. Madrid was the superior team and deserved to progress.”

Madrid failed to advance in the Champions League after winning the first leg on the road only once, in 2019, when it was eliminated in the round of 16 by Ajax. It had won six of its previous seven tournament games against Liverpool, drawing one.

“It was exactly the kind of game we wanted,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “Pressing up front was difficult for them. The team performed admirably; it was focused from the start.”

In the other round-of-16 match on Wednesday, Napoli defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 to join Madrid, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Manchester City in the Friday quarterfinal draw.

In the 79th minute, Benzema scored from close range after a pass from Vincius Jnior. The France striker, who was injured and missed Madrid’s Spanish league win over Espanyol last weekend, has scored 13 goals in his last eight Champions League knockout stage matches. He limped during the goal celebration but claimed it was just a knock later.

“It was a difficult match against a good opponent,” Benzema explained. “From the start, we showed that we wanted to attack, so it was a good match for the fans, and we’re into the quarterfinals.”

Liverpool started with an attacking lineup and showed its intentions early, with Darwin Nez forcing Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make a difficult save on a breakaway seven minutes in.

Madrid had chances as well, with Eduardo Camavinga coming close to scoring in the 20th minute with a shot from outside the area that struck the crossbar after a deflection by Alisson Becker. In addition, the Liverpool goalkeeper denied Madrid forward Vincius Jnior a chance in the first half and another in the second in a one-on-one situation with midfielder Federico Valverde.

Klopp kept trying to push his team forward from the sidelines, but it became clear as the minutes passed that it wouldn’t be enough for the English team.

Liverpool made a huge comeback at home in the 2019 semifinals, defeating another Spanish club, Barcelona. It won 4-0 after losing 3-0 at the Camp Nou to continue a run that culminated in the team winning the trophy.

Madrid, which defeated Liverpool in the Champions League final last year, played in its 300th Champions League game.

At the end of the game, the Bernabéu’s loudspeakers played Liverpool’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” anthem as fans from both clubs applauded.

“We are two heavyweights who meet each other quite frequently in international football, and it is clear that we have a lot of respect for each other,” Klopp said. “It was a really nice gesture, without a doubt.”