MADRID: Star striker Karim Benzema scored the only goal for Real Madrid against Liverpool in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 clash on Wednesday to seal the reigning champions' spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-2 margin on aggregate.
After the last 16 first leg clash at Anfield in February saw Madrid sitting pretty with a 5-2 win that gave a three-goal advantage, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said his side only had a one percent chance of turning the tie around ahead of the match.
Liverpool did halt the Madrid rampage at the Santiago Bernabeu but never looked like mounting a stirring comeback of the type they managed against Barcelona in 2019, or AC Milan in the 2005 final.
Madrid have now knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League in three consecutive seasons, including beating them in last year's final.
Real Madrid, a 14-time record winners showed the nous to keep Liverpool at arm's length, with defenders Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger determined to shut out the visitors, along with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Madrid could have significantly stretched their lead, save for a series of superb stops by Liverpool stopper Alisson Becker, and some unusually profligate finishing.
In the first leg, Madrid were lethal, with Vinicius Junior and Benzema netting twice each.
Following a goalless first half, the duo combined for Madrid's winner after 78 minutes, with Vinicius slipping as he tried to shoot, but managing to hook the ball into Benzema's path for a simple tap-in.
Madrid's only worry was seeing their captain limp off after his goal amid an injury-hit season.
Benzema is key to Madrid's bid to lift the trophy for a sixth time in 10 seasons, if he can stay fit.