Real Madrid showed exactly why they are European champions and how far Liverpool have fallen down the pecking order with a 3-0 victory in a display which oozed class at Anfield.
Scorers: Real Madrid - Ronaldo (23), Benzema (30, 41)
Karim Benzema scored twice after Cristiano Ronaldo broke his six-match duck at the ground with a superb opener to edge within one of club icon Raul’s all-time Champions League goalscoring record.
In the final analysis it was not even close. Real’s first win – in fact first goals – in four meetings against the Reds came all too easily as they highlighted the gulf in class.
It had all looked so good for 23 minutes as Liverpool evoked memories of famous Anfield nights of the past, boosted by the fervour rolling down off the Kop. Raheem Sterling’s pace caused Real’s defence some problems and former Reds defender Alvaro Arbeloa got away with a trip on the youngster as he raced on to Jordan Henderson’s ball over the top.
Steven Gerrard troubled Iker Casillas with a low, dipping shot which was parried by the goalkeeper, who then got in a flap trying to deal with the Reds captain’s corner.
Joe Allen clipping a shot wide and Philippe Coutinho firing against the post late in the half was as close as Liverpool came, though, as Real, having absorbed the early pressure, switched up a gear in an instant. Ronaldo, whose previous involvement amounted to being fouled by Henderson after just nine seconds and seeing a low shot comfortably claimed by Simon Mignolet, was unsurprisingly the instigator.
Laying the ball off to James Rodriguez, he darted forward to get on the end of a deliciously weighted return ball and hit a sublime half-volley over the goalkeeper with centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel seemingly mesmerised. It was Ronaldo’s 70th goal in this competition, his 19th club goal in 13 appearances this season and 272nd in 259 games for Real.
If Liverpool were stunned by that, they should have seen the second and third goals coming as they resulted from familiar flaws. On the half-hour, Toni Kroos lifted a cross to the far post where Glen Johnson left Benzema unchallenged to loop a header across goal and in at the far post.
A Kroos corner 11 minutes later floated over the head of Mario Balotelli and hit Pepe on the chest, with the Portugal defender reacting quickest to nick the ball past Mignolet for Benzema to tap home.
The only positive on the night for Liverpool was Basel losing 1-0 to Ludogorets in Group B’s other match, leaving the second-placed Swiss and the Bulgarians on three points alongside the Reds.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Sterling, Allen, Gerrard, Henderson (Can 67), Coutinho (Markovic 67), Balotelli (Lallana 46). Subs Not Used: Brad Jones, Toure, Lambert, Manquillo.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo (Nacho 84), Rodriguez, Kroos (Illarramendi 81), Modric, Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo (Khedira 75). Subs Not Used: Navas, Hernandez, Carvajal, Medran.