Match ends, Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 0.
Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
- Reds make seven changes to starting XI
- Gerrard, Sterling, Henderson and Balotelli on bench
- Benzema scores only goal of game
- Liverpool three points off second-placed Basel in Group B
- Bale makes injury comeback as substitute
A much-changed Liverpool fought hard but came up short against Real Madrid as Karim Benzema scored the only goal in their Champions League match.
The Frenchman turned in Marcelo's low cross after Simon Mignolet had done well to keep out efforts from Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez.
Liverpool threatened briefly after the break as Adam Lallana fired just wide.
But Real remained in control and Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling's arrival off the bench could not turn the tide.
Despite the slimmer margin of victory, the game petered out in a similarly low-key style to when Real enjoyed a 3-0 win in the reverse fixture at Anfield a fortnight ago.
In possibly the biggest gamble of his managerial career, Brendan Rodgers made seven changes to the starting XI that lost to Newcastle at the weekend, with Mario Balotelli and Jordan Henderson joining Gerrard and Sterling on the bench.
|All shooting, no celebrating|
|Cristiano Ronaldo's run of 13 successive goalscoring appearances came to an end, leaving him one short of Raul's all-time Champions League record of 71 goals.|
|It was not for the want of trying though. The Portuguese attempted 10 shots - seven more than any other player on the pitch.|
Instead, Kolo Toure, who has seen less than a minute of Premier League action this season, started in defence, behind a midfield trio of Emre Can, Lucas and Joe Allen, with the willing Fabio Borini in attack.
Liverpool's line-up seemed to suggest damage limitation, rather than a revenge mission, at the Bernabeu.
If minimising their losses was Rodgers's aim, he succeeded, but some will struggle to understand his approach to such a big game.
The result, and team selection, will be thrown into even starker light should Liverpool fail to get a result at home to Chelsea on Saturday, when some of their rested first-choice players are likely to return.
And promising performances from several of Rodgers's second string will not alter the maths of Group B, in which Liverpool find themselves three points behind second-placed Basel with two games to play.
Their line-up may have seemed more in keeping with the Capital One Cup than the Champions League, but the changes initially appeared to unsettle in-form Real.
Liverpool made a similarly promising start at Anfield, though, and Mignolet was still required to make sharp stops from Rodriguez and Ronaldo.
The Merseysiders held out only four minutes longer than they managed on home turf before Marcelo stole a march on Lazar Markovic on the left to set up Real's opener.
The full-back's measured cross was met by Benzema as he darted in front of Toure and the visitors appealed in vain for an offside flag.
Liverpool reached half-time without registering a shot on goal but, more importantly, despite being penned back on the edge of their own box, survived without conceding a second.
The Reds emerged for the second half to a rousing chorus of You'll Never Walk Alone from the travelling fans, and they responded with more attacking endeavour.
Alberto Moreno and Lallana both caused moments of alarm with snap-shots, before Borini saw a free-kick deflected wide.
But it was the hosts who created more openings, with Benzema side-footing over on the stretch and Gareth Bale hitting the bar after being introduced on the hour.
Gerrard, Sterling and Philippe Coutinho came on soon after, but a late sucker punch never arrived.
Instead it took a timely foul from Moreno to stop Bale as he shaped to let fly with his left foot and Real probed at the growing defensive gaps.
Check out the best of Tuesday's Champions League photos in our gallery on the BBC Sport Facebook page.
- 17ArbeloaSubstituted forNachoat 83'minutes
- 4RamosBooked at 60mins
- 12MarceloBooked at 76mins
- 10RodríguezBooked at 53minsSubstituted forBaleat 62'minutes
- 9BenzemaSubstituted forHernándezat 87'minutes
- 7Cristiano Ronaldo
- 37SkrtelBooked at 47mins
- 4K Touré
- 18MorenoBooked at 85mins
- 23CanSubstituted forCoutinhoat 75'minutes
- 21LeivaSubstituted forGerrardat 69'minutes
- 50MarkovicSubstituted forSterlingat 69'minutes
- Viktor Kassai
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 0.
Offside, Liverpool. Raheem Sterling tries a through ball, but Javier Manquillo is caught offside.
Marcelo (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Javier Manquillo (Liverpool).
Offside, Real Madrid. Javier Hernández tries a through ball, but Gareth Bale is caught offside.
Foul by Toni Kroos (Real Madrid).
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Real Madrid. Javier Hernández replaces Karim Benzema.
Offside, Liverpool. Raheem Sterling tries a through ball, but Fabio Borini is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Alberto Moreno (Liverpool).
Substitution, Real Madrid. Nacho replaces Álvaro Arbeloa.
Attempt missed. Marcelo (Real Madrid) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Attempt blocked. Isco (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cristiano Ronaldo with a cross.
Marcelo (Real Madrid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Marcelo (Real Madrid).
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Fabio Borini (Liverpool).
Substitution, Liverpool. Philippe Coutinho replaces Emre Can.
Attempt missed. Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Isco following a corner.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Martin Skrtel.
Attempt blocked. Marcelo (Real Madrid) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Álvaro Arbeloa.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Kolo Touré.
Attempt blocked. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Marcelo.
Attempt saved. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Emre Can (Liverpool).
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) hits the bar with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Marcelo.
Substitution, Liverpool. Steven Gerrard replaces Lucas Leiva.
Substitution, Liverpool. Raheem Sterling replaces Lazar Markovic.
Attempt missed. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Marcelo with a cross.
Corner, Real Madrid. Conceded by Kolo Touré.
Attempt blocked. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Karim Benzema.
Attempt missed. Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Lucas Leiva.
Offside, Liverpool. Emre Can tries a through ball, but Fabio Borini is caught offside.
Substitution, Real Madrid. Gareth Bale replaces James Rodríguez.