Real Madrid stymie Liverpool to claim berth in Champions semifinals

Sports Desk, Apr 14 (EFE).- Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League semifinals for a 30th time on Wednesday after holding Liverpool 0-0 at Anfield to win the quarterfinal tie 3-1 in aggregate.

The Blancos, who have won Europe’s elite club competition a record 13 times, conceded 57 percent possession to the hosts and were outshot 15-6, but achieved the paramount aim of keeping a clean sheet.

After missing the final four the last two seasons, Real Madrid will face an improving Chelsea side on April 27 in the first leg of their semifinal tie.

Though there were no Reds supporters in the stands to sing along when the late Gerry Marsden’s rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sounded from the PA system at Anfield, their spirit seemed to infuse the Liverpool players.

Visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was forced into action in the 2nd minute to stop an effort from Mohamed Salah. Nine minutes later, the Belgian had to bat away a strike by James Milner.

Real Madrid’s first attack came in the 20th minute, when Karim Benzema got the better of Nathaniel Phillips and passed to Vinicius in a good position, but Liverpool’s Ozan Kabak got enough of the ball to divert it harmlessly onto the post.

Salah scuffed a shot wide in the 41st minute and Georginio Wijnaldum fired over the cross-bar seconds later.

Courtois denied Roberto Firmino from close range in the opening minute of the second half.

With 30 minutes left in regulation, Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp made a double substitution, replacing Milner with Thiago Alcantara and swapping out Kabak for Diogo Jota as an extra attacker.

Yet the next chance would be Real Madrid’s, as Fede Valverde lofted a deep ball to Vinicius in the box. The Brazilian tried to chip it over compatriot Alisson, but the Reds keeper dealt with the threat and kept the ball away from Toni Kroos.

Benzema had an opportunity to seal the tie for the Blancos in the 81st minute, but his header hit the ground and then bounced onto the top of the net.

A Mo Salah strike smothered by Courtois in the 92nd minute turned out to be the last gasp for Liverpool. EFE


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