Karim Benzema’s first half strike was enough to see the European Champions past a Liverpool side at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid booked their place in the Champions League last 16 thanks to a 27th minute goal from French international Karim Benzema. Rodgers made seven alterations to the side that lost 1-0 at Newcastle on Saturday- Gerrard, Sterling and Balotelli were among those on the bench as their boss had one eye on the vital clash with league leaders Chelsea this weekend.

Simon Mignolet predictably was a busy man last evening and made a number of important blocks. Liverpool weathered early pressure and eventually grew in confidence with Adam Lallana coming closest to getting the equalizer in the second half. Rodgers introduced Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling but the visitors rarely troubled the Madrid defence.

Brendan Rodgers defended his team selection and praised the spirited display from his boys.

“We are disappointed in the result in particular after an excellent performance. We started the game very, very well, showed great confidence and courage to play.”

“We defended very, very well when we had to against a team that’s winning game by four five six goals and are currently the best team in the world at the moment.”

“But I thought we were very unfortunate not to get something from the game. I thought we deserved maybe a point.”

“The changes were to get us a performance and a result. We got the performance but unfortunately we just didn’t quite get the result,” he said.

“I felt the need to change the team after the Newcastle game, this is now where I have to put the trust in the squad because we bought a lot of players in the summer.[It is] seven games in 21 days and we are trying to adapt new players into a way of work and a way of playing – and because we can’t train as much we have to develop them in the games.”

“Kolo Toure was excellent. Lucas Leiva was outstanding in that controlling role. Emre Can, getting up to fitness, up to speed, was excellent. Fabio Borini showed his intensity, his pressure, his movement. Markovic worked hard and will get better as time goes on.”

Rodgers also admitted that he faces a dilemma now ahead of the clash against Chelsea this weekend.

“Tonight gives me great food for thought. We played a team we thought could get the result and nearly got the result. We haven’t been consistent enough to have players as guaranteed starters.”

Three straight European defeats means there is no further room for error in Liverpool’s remaining group encounters with Ludogorets and Basel.