Madrid dominate Reds, City steal late winner

Champions League Quarterfinals

Madrid, April 7: Vinícius Júnior finally came up with the type of performance Real Madrid fans have been expecting from him.
The Brazilian forward netted his first double for the club on Tuesday, leading it to a 3-1 over Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.
The youngster tormented the Liverpool defense all night and was precise with his finishes, moving the Spanish powerhouse closer to the semifinals after a two-year absence.
“People outside of the club criticize me, but I keep working hard,” the 20-year-old Vinícius Júnior said.
Marco Asensio also scored for Madrid, which took full advantage of Liverpool’s defensive blunders in the first half to take a commanding lead ahead of next week’s second leg in England.
Mohamed Salah netted the lone goal for Liverpool early in the second half before Vinícius Júnior sealed the victory for the hosts.
The game was a rematch of the 2018 Champions League final won by the same score by Madrid, which since then was eliminated in the tournament’s round of 16 two years in a row.
Liverpool won the title following the loss to Madrid but was also eliminated in the round of 16 last season.
Liverpool recently endured a run of poor results and sits only seventh in the Premier League, so it may have to win the Champions League to return to the European competition next season. It looked lost at the start of the match at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium in Madrid, unable to get a shot on goal in the first half.
Vinícius Júnior opened the scoring on a breakaway in the 27th after a superb long pass over the top by Toni Kroos. The Brazilian forward made a nice run between Liverpool defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nathaniel Phillips then chested the ball down before firing a low right-footed shot from inside the area past goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Vinícius Júnior had scored only one goal since October and four in total this season for Madrid.
Another long pass by Kroos — and a defensive blunder by Liverpool — led to Asensio’s second goal in the 36th. Alexander-Arnold tried to clear the ball from Kroos but headed it across the area directly to Asensio, who flipped the ball over the charging Becker and finished the move on the other side to push it into the open net.
Liverpool complained of a foul by Lucas Vázquez on Sadio Mané just moments before Madrid’s second goal.
The English side improved after the break and was able to pull one back early in the second half with Salah finding the net from close range after a shot by Diogo Jota was partially blocked by Luka Modric in the 51st.
With the goal, Salah became the fifth Liverpool player to score in four consecutive European appearances.
Asensio, who scored in each of Madrid’s last four games in all competitions, squandered the chance to increase Madrid’s lead on a breakaway in the 64th. But a minute later, Vinícius Júnior didn’t miss his opportunity after a pass by Modric amid more soft defending by the English team, finding the net with a shot from near the penalty spot.
Liverpool had kept four consecutive clean sheets away from home going into the game in Madrid. It has not had five in a row in away games this century.
In Manchester, Phil Foden showed Erling Haaland there’s already a 20-year-old excelling at Manchester City.
Foden netted City’s 90th-minute goal to clinch a 2-1 victory over Haaland’s Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday — and even before that it was the local lad repeatedly flaunting his skills on the ball to bamboozle the visitors.
Haaland, who is being touted as a potential replacement for Sergio Aguero at City next season, didn’t have the best of auditions to live up to a valuation far exceeding USD 100 million. Haaland did set up an equalizer on the turn for captain Marco Reus to cancel out Kevin De Bruyne’s first-half strike.
It was also Foden who played an integral part in that City opener that followed Emre Can giving the ball away and De Bruyne leading the breakaway. Foden squared to Riyad Mahrez, who kept the ball in play at the far post before pulling it back for De Bruyne to clip into the net in the 19th minute.
And with City entering the 90th minute facing going to Germany next week locked at 1-1, De Bruyne’s vision picked apart the Dortmund defense again.
De Bruyne sent a perfectly weighted ball floating over the Dortmund defense. Gundogan brought down the cross at the far post and laid the ball off for Foden to sweep into the net.
While Foden was the match-winner, Haaland still took the opportunity to chat with his young counterpart with mouths covered on the freezing Etihad pitch.
Dortmund is insistent that Haaland won’t be linking up next season with City — or any other team. Borussia Dortmund are chasing after the Champions League for the first time since 1997 while City are yet to win the title. (AP)

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