Football Features

“Southgate was watching” – Full player ratings as Vinicius exposes Alexander-Arnold in dominant Real Madrid win over Liverpool

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:22, 6 April 2021

In an open night of football, Real Madrid mangled Liverpool 3-1 in the Champions League quarter-final first-leg.

Los Blancos were quicker out of the traps and dominated the first-half to an embarrassing degree. The second period was less dominant but Madrid were always better than their visitors and will now take a commanding lead to Anfield.

Here’s how the players rated at Estadio Alfredo di Stefano:

Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois – 8 – Absolutely outstanding. Had little to do in terms of saving shots but came off his line to claim crosses with supreme authority, taking pressure off his makeshift defenders. Almost saved Salah’s goal, too.

Lucas Vázquez – 7 – Very abrupt and rugged in his defending (Dani Carvajal would be proud). Lucky to not see red for a last man foul in the first-half.

Eder Militao – 7 – Solid at the back. Handled the Liverpool attackers well.

Nacho – 7 – Combative and hard to shift.

Ferland Mendy – 8 – Mendy defended well as he always does. The highlight of his night being a heart-stopping block on Sadio Mané to stop Liverpool from making it 2-2.

Casemiro – 8 – An absolute monster in the middle as usual. Devoured Liverpool’s midfield.

Luka Modric – 8 – The least impressive of Madrid’s midfielders but still effortlessly better than anything in Red. Picked up a simple assist for Vinicius’ second goal, killing Liverpool off for good.

Toni Kroos – 8 – Was in “Kroos control” all night long. Played sumptuous array of passes (albeit unmarked) including two absolute showstoppers that led to Madrid’s first two goals. The first assist in particular was a 70 yard ICBM that caught Vinicius perfectly in stride.

Marco Asensio – 7 – Defended diligently and also scored Madrid’s second, pouncing on Alexander-Arnold’s mistake.

Vinicius Jr. – 9 – Absolutely magnificent. So often criticised for a lack of end product but delivered enormously tonight when Los Blancos needed him most. Scored the opening goal of the game with a delightful bit of control and a confident finish, then looked a threat with his dribbling and pace before capping off the victory with a well-taken third goal. Was this the game where Vinicius Jr. changed from a boy into a man? It really felt like that.

Karim Benzema – 7 – Linked play well. Threatened every time he touched the ball.


Federico Valverde (for Asensio 70′) – 5 – Came on and added a bit of solidity.

Rodrygo (for Vinicius 85′) – 5 – Messed up a counter that could have truly killed Madrid off.

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Alisson – 5 – Well below his best. Made few saves and looked helpless on the Madrid goals, the second two of which were eminently saveable. Turns out the moustache was more like Kryptonite than Green Lantern’s power ring.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 3 – Awful. Just… horrendous. With all the discourse surrounding him right now, Alexander-Arnold would have hoped to build on his weekend brilliance by dominating this game. But a few smart passes aside he was a non-event in attack and defensively he was a six-lane highway for Real Madrid to drive down at their leisure.

Los Blancos worked him over every chance they got, and that pressure told when he got an awful assist for Madrid’s second goal, heading a harmless long ball into Marco Asensio’s path. And for their third goal he failed to follow Vinicius’ run.

All in all, a night to forget for Liverpool’s young right-back. But a night that will live long in the memory of his critics and the England set-up too. Gareth Southgate was watching. Did he cost himself a spot at the Euros with this display? More than likely. Oh, Trent.

Nat Phillips – 4 – Made some key clearances but was too often caught flat-footed by Madrid’s forwards, notably for Vinicius Junior’s goals where he completely lost track of the Brazilian and failed to apply even a modicum of pressure. Threw his body in the way of a few shots nicely, but this is Liverpool not Leyton Orient; if it means more it’s because it requires more.

Ozan Kabak – 5 – The best Liverpol defender but that’s honestly not saying much. Was just okay, instead of terrible.

Andrew Robertson – 4 – Interestingly the guy who plays all the time with no rest at all looks absolutely exhausted. Funny, that.

Fabinho – 7 – The best Liverpool player on the pitch. Led the team in tackles (3) and interceptions (4) but wasn’t progressive enough with the ball.

Naby Keita – 4 – Was given the start for his dribbling but did nothing of the sort and was so poor in protecting the defence that he was hooked by Klopp five minutes before half-time.

Gini Wijnaldum – 4 – If Barcelona really have agreed a deal with him then they will be scrambling to find a way out of it because wow, what a masterclass in doing absolutely nothing in a role that requires you to, at the very least, put yourself about.

Mohamed Salah – 7 – Finally got his goal against Real Madrid. Just unfortunately for him no other Liverpool player looked as capable of doing the same.

Sadio Mané – 4 – What happened to him? Has been awful for months now but this was embarrassing. Summed up by a moment at the end where he span away from danger and tried to dribble by the 35-year-old Luka Modric only to get stopped in his tracks by the Croatian.

Diogo Jota – 6 – Constantly tried to get Liverpool going but was unable to rouse his team-mates. Set-up the Salah goal with a lovely turn and scuffed shot. Bizarrely removed ahead of Mané.


Thiago (for Keita 42′) – 6 – Came on for Keita and added a bit of order to the Liverpool midfield but his team-mates didn’t run the play through him and so what control he gave Liverpool was fleeting.

Xherdan Shaqiri (for Jota 81′) – 5 – Added nothing.

Roberto Firmino (for Kabak 81′) – 5 – Did little.