Carlo Ancelotti said Real Madrid are “no way” through to the Champions League quarterfinals, despite inflicting Liverpool‘s biggest-ever home defeat in Europe with a 5-2 round of 16 first-leg victory at Anfield.
Madrid’s win, which came after being 2-0 down inside 14 minutes, is second only to Ajax’s 5-1 European Cup victory in Amsterdam as Liverpool’s heaviest loss in European competition.
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Two goals each from Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema, plus an Eder Militao header, sealed the visitors’ remarkable fightback after Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah had given Liverpool an early lead.
But with Liverpool having history for producing dramatic Champions League fightbacks — they overturned three-goal deficits to beat Ancelotti’s AC Milan and Barcelona in 2005 and 2019, respectively — Real coach Ancelotti said that this tie is not over ahead the return leg next month.
“This is only the first part of a knockout tie,” Ancelotti said. “It’s gone our way, but we’ll need to imagine that in the second leg we’ll have to suffer and work hard.
“Obviously we didn’t expect to start like we did but at 2-0 down I thought about the [Manchester] City away leg last year in the hope that we could do the same — but it turned out even better.
“Liverpool is a great team which made us suffer in the first half so I’d say that, unfortunately, this tie isn’t finished. No way.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp dismissed Ancelotti’s fears of a second-leg upset, however, by saying his side are facing elimination at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I think Carlo thinks the tie is over and I think it as well in the moment,” Klopp said. “But the closer you get to the game, the bigger our chances become.
“We go there and try to win the game. If that’s possible or not, I don’t know. We will go there and play a football game. It will be a massive challenge. But we have to play in the Premier League first and make sure we learn from this game.”
The comeback by Madrid was sparked by two first-half goals from Vinicius, who took his personal tally against Liverpool to five goals in five games. And Ancelotti said that the Brazil international is now proving his status as a world-class player.
“Vinicius is the most decisive player in the world,” Ancelotti said. “There is no other player like him right now. He doesn’t stop dribbling, shooting. I hope he can maintain this level.
“Winning like this isn’t easy, above all because of how the match began. We never lost confidence and little by little we won control of the ball. We were efficient up front and Vinicius produced an incredible performance.”