Liverpool were humbled by a masterclass display meted out by the European champions Real Madrid.
Three goals in the space of 18 first half minutes settled the contest early as the Reds were comprehensively dispatched at their own backyard. Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the 20th time in 13 appearances this season and subsequently moved to within one goal of former Real Madrid legend Raul’s Champions League record of 71 strikes. After the flurry of goals it was a matter of damage limitation for Rodgers’ men and the English club put on a spirited display in the second half.
Mario Balotelli had another horrible evening as he was substituted at half time and his shirt swap with Real Madrid defender Pepe did not go down well with the Reds boss. Rodgers,however, insisted that Balotelli’s substitution was based on tactical reasons.
“It’s not something I like,” he said. “We had an incident last year with a player that was dealt with internally.”
“It’s not something that I stand for. If you want to do that, you do it at the end of the game. I will deal with it tomorrow.”
“His substitution was purely tactical. I felt we needed more movement centrally to occupy the centre halves more, and Raheem’s speed would give us that.”
“In the second half, you could see every single player pressing and wanting to get something from the game. At Liverpool, you need to press and work. Raheem worked tirelessly all the way through, which is credit to him.”
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti however stood up for the Italian striker.”He wasn’t the worst performer.”
“I thought in the first half he was the player who most attacked the space and tried to create problems for us,”Ancelotti told Sky Sport Italia.
“His performance was absolutely not to be scrapped tonight. Can he give more? I don’t know, but he wasn’t the worst performer this evening.:
Rodgers admitted that the game was lost in the opening half hour and was visibly disappointed to concede two sloppy goals.
“I actually thought we started the game very well. We were aggressive in our pressing and our passing, and we were coping very well. But that period after the first goal up until half time, we conceded a disappointing first goal, and then the second and third were poor from our point of view, and nowhere near what we would want.”
“And then at 3-0, against a team that scores so many goals and can be so dangerous, it can be very difficult. I have to give credit to my players, we were better in the second half, but we conceded poor goals against a top side. Overall, I thought it was a bit harsh for us to be 3-0 down at half time.”
“You see lots of teams crumble at 3-0 down, but we didn’t. We’ve got a lot of young players, but I was proud of the players tonight because they kept going, against a fantastic side.”
Defeat leaves Liverpool with just three points from the first three Goup B games and they have a trip to Bernabeu next up in match week 4.