Anfield spectacular leaves Real routed in record style

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

On yet another European occasion which renders the club's domestic form unfathomable, Liverpool recorded one of their most spectacular Champions League victories last night, the 4-0 scoreline condemning Real Madrid to their heaviest defeat in the tournament and reinvigorating Rafael Benitez's side for Saturday's title showdown with Manchester United.

Liverpool's two goals inside the first half-hour, courtesy of Fernando Torres and a Steven Gerrard penalty, both had an element of good fortune about them but Benitez simply out-thought the club he served for 16 years in total, hitting them with an early attacking blizzard which Juande Ramos, whose job Benitez has admitted he covets one day, had not expected. It was with some self-satisfaction that Benitez, who will assess today whether Fernando Torres will be fit to face United, said the win demonstrated his side did not rely on defence alone in Europe, contrary to popular opinion in Spain. "What I would say [to those in Spain] is look at the facts and figures," Benitez said. "Liverpool have scored 119 goals in all competitions last season and I think that shows something."

True to form, Benitez refused to declare himself entirely satisfied. "[I am] close to it but we could have scored more goals," he said, grinning. But he does believe this win, capped by a superb Gerrard half-volley and Andrea Dossena's first Liverpool goal, two minutes from time, will boost his team for the trip to Old Trafford. "If we win we will be in the title race," he said. "As a manager this is the best way of approaching the game." Liverpool won 5-0 on aggregate.

Gerrard justifiably described the performance, which mirrored Liverpool's fine 2-1 win here against Juventus four years ago, as their best of this season in all competitions. "The first 30 minutes were awesome," Gerrard said. "We got the job done in the first half. It was a fantastic team performance."

Chelsea reinforced the sense of Premier League superiority by securing a 2-2 draw in Turin which condemned their former manager Claudio Ranieri's Juventus side to defeat. Guus Hiuddink's charges, carrying a 1-0 lead to Italy, came from behind twice with goals from Michael Essien and Didier Drogba. Hiddink criticised his side for losing "too many duels" but praised their fighting spirit.

It was Liverpool's result which sent a message across Europe, though, casting doubts about the chances of Juande Ramos continuing in his role beyond the temporary contract in place until the summer.

The result is likely to open a major inquisition into the future direction of Real, who have not progressed beyond the last 16 for five years, though Ramos resisted talk about his future.

"That's football," he said. "We tried to take the game to Liverpool where we could but they were good on the night and there's no point going around in circles on it." Ramos did not dwell on the errors of judgement by the Belgian referee Franck de Bleeckere, who overlooked a push on Pepe leading to Torres's goal and awarded a penalty against Gabriel Heinze when the ball had clearly struck his shoulder.

Benitez reiterated his claim, backed by Uefa statistics, that his side are consistently the best in Europe. The reason? "I can only say that we approach European games with confidence and in the right way."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific